This study examined the nature of student discourse in classrooms with an International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme and Diploma Programme to investigate alignment between the written curriculum and the competing classroom discourse experiences of students. Patterns of classroom discourse were revealed in one case study site and data analysed using critical discourse analysis. The form and the function of classroom discourse were investigated, providing a unique contribution to the field because, typically, the focus is either form or function, but not both. Video recordings of 100 classroom episodes, from Year 6 to Year 12, across a range of subject areas, were collected and observed, and data were analysed to determine the nature of the competing discourses in which students were engaged. The purpose of the study was to determine the extent to which classroom discourse in this school aligned with the written curriculum guidelines of the IB.
The research was designed to investigate the following research questions:
1. What competing student discourses exist in an IB Middle Years Programme and an IB Diploma Programme in one
2. To what extent does the function of student discourse align with the IB vision and philosophy?
3. What inferences can be drawn about teacher pedagogy and student discourse?
Results were analysed within a taxonomic organisation based on the forms and functions of classroom discourse. Results suggested that a wide range of intricately interconnected and interdependent discourses existed within the classrooms, competing in terms of both form and function. It was also found that student engagement in classroom discourse only partially aligned with IB vision and philosophy, and pedagogical change would be required to create closer alignment. The teacher was found to be the major determinant of the nature of student discourse.
This study contributes to existing knowledge in the field of critical discourse analysis through the identification of the relationship between form and function of discourse and provides educational leaders with a framework for planning pedagogical interventions.