Education Endowment Foundation:Dialogic Teaching

Dialogic Teaching

Cambridge Primary Review Trust & York University
Implementation cost
Evidence strength
Impact (months)
Independent Evaluator
Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield Hallam University logo
Improving children’s learning by improving the quality of classroom talk.
Pupils: 4985 Schools: 76 Grant: £499,485
Key Stage: 1 Duration: 3 year(s) 6 month(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed Jul 2017

Dialogic Teaching aims to improve pupil engagement and attainment by improving the quality of classroom talk. Teachers are trained in strategies that enable pupils to reason, discuss, argue and explain rather than merely respond, in order to develop higher order thinking and articulacy. The programme uses video review, print materials and in-school mentoring to support teachers’ practice across English, maths and science lessons

We know that the nature and quality of teaching practice in the classroom has a big impact on pupil learning. Pilots of dialogic teaching in the UK have suggested that it can change teachers’ practice, and there is other evidence that cognitively challenging classroom talk can lead to gains for pupils in language, mathematics and science, but this is the first trial of this approach.

This trial found consistent, positive effects in English, science and maths for all children in Year 5, equivalent to about 2 months additional progress. The result was similar when looking only at children eligible for free school meals. This is consistent with other EEF trials focusing on cognitively challenging talk, such as Philosophy for Children, and Thinking, Doing, Talking Science. The consistent results across subjects and the lack of any subject specific content in the training suggest that the approach may improve children’s overall thinking and learning skills rather than their knowledge in a given topic.

The majority of teachers felt they needed more than two terms to fully embed the approach in their classrooms and thought it would have more impact over a longer time period

EEF will explore options for testing the approach using a model that could be made available to a large number of schools.

An addendum to the report was published in April 2019, which did not find an impact on KS2 results. No process evaluation was conducted as part of this follow-up, and it is likely that many schools did not implement the programme in Year 6, prior to the KS2 testing

This intervention requires teachers to change classroom talk across the curriculum, supported by training, handbooks, video, and regular review meetings with mentors. Future research could aim to differentiate the effects of these different elements.

Project type:Efficacy Trial
Key stage:Key Stage 2
Delivered by:Teachers
Participant group:Whole Class
Intervention length:2 Terms
Cost per pupil:£52
No. of Teachers/​TAs:1 per class + mentor
Staff training duration:3