Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

John M. Peters

Committee Members

Robert Z. Williams, Luther Kindall, H. Dudley Dewhirst


This study was undertaken in response to the need for research on alternative teaching and learning approaches in higher education It focused on the experience of adult learners in a nontraditional classroom environment,as perceived by the learners themselves and by outside observers The study also focused on a particular mode of classroom discourse, itself a promising newform of teaching and learning. It is about dialogue,a way that students and teachers can think together.Ethnographic and phenomenological techniques and outside observer ratings were used to collect and analyze data Themes derived from interview results, field notes, and frequency counts based on observers' ratings described participants' experiences with dialogue in a course designed to help participants develop their dialogue skills These same sources of data also were used to describe participants' experience with three types of teaching and learning, and outside observers rated participants' use of selected types of questions.The results were consistent with related studies in the area of dialogue and collaborative learning. Themes that stood out for special discussion included the role of strong interpersonal relationships in creating and sustaining dialogue,the critical factor of time to learn, practice, and develop dialogue skills; differences in how dialogue is understood; and the relationship of the dialogue process to three types of learning and teachingThe study's findings are discussed in terms of (1) theory development,(2) related research, and (3) implications for practice. This discussion includes a commentary on the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods in research on the dialogue process

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