The Dialogic Affordances of an Action Learning Project in a South African Teacher Education Context


In an effort to promote student agency and engagement, to foster an environment which encourages deep approaches to learning and challenges traditional student-lecturer hierarchies of power, a first-year academic literacies course at a South African university reconceptualised its curriculum around an action learning project. This course purposefully drew on dialogic learning at various levels with the aim of creating an environment in which effecting learning could happen despite large classes and limited resources. The course was structured around dialogic learning a) in small groups within the classroom, b) in small groups outside the classroom, and c) in online discussion forums where students were in conversation with course material, with writing fellows and with each other. Discourse analysis was used to analyse group reflections submitted at the end of the 21-week course, to determine the challenges and affordances of this approach from students’ perspectives. Though some students were resistant to this learner-centred approach, findings include that the dialogic approach used in this course encouraged critical thinking, helped students to develop problem solving skills, led to a cognisance of multiple perspectives, deepened understanding of course material and expectations, promoted inclusivity and encouraged reflection.


Ilse Fouche
Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Department of Literacies, Languages and Literatures, University of the Witwatersrand, Gauteng, South Africa


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Learning in Higher Education


Dialogic learning, Action learning, Agency, Deep approaches to learning

Digital Media