Discourse Analysis: A Tool for Helping Educators to Teach Science

  • Katerina Plakitsi University of Ioannina
  • Panagiotis Piliouras Ministry of Education
  • George Efthimiou
Keywords: teachers as researchers, collaborative inquiry, discourse analysis, companion meanings


This article refers to a part of a collaborative action research project in three elementary science classrooms. The project aims at the transformation of the nature and type of teachers' discursive practices into more collaborative inquiries. The basic strategy is to give the teachers the opportunity to analyze their discourse using a three-dimensional context of analysis. The teachers analyzed their discursive repertoires when teaching science. They studied the companion meaning, i.e., the different layers of explicit and tacit messages they communicate about Nature of Science (NoS), Nature of Teaching (NoT), and Nature of Language (NoL). The question investigated is the following: Could an action research program, which involves teachers in the analysis of their own discursive practices, lead to the transformation of discourse modes that take place in the science classrooms to better communicate aspects of NoS, NoT and NoL in a collaborative, inquiry-based context? Results indicate that the teachers' involvement in their discourse analysis led to a transformation in the discursive repertoires in their science classrooms. Gradually, the teachers' companion meanings that were created, implicitly/explicitly, from the dialogues taking place during science lessons were more appropriate for the establishment of a productive collaborative inquiry learning context. We argue that discourse analysis could be used for research purposes, as a training medium or as a reflective tool on how teachers communicate science.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs170168


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Author Biographies

Katerina Plakitsi, University of Ioannina

Katerina PLAKITSI is an associate professor of science education at the University of Ioannina, Greece. She has a bachelor in both physics and pedagogy and a master's diploma and a Ph.D. in science education. Her main research interests are science education in early childhood, formal and informal science education, and cultural historical activity theory applied in science education. She has written many books in Greek and in English and has published in different international academic journals. She has been a member of many scientific committees of national and international conferences. She is a scientific coordinator in many European projects and supervises Ph.D. candidates in science education. She has written many school environmental science textbooks, and is coordinating the current science curriculum reform in Greece for the contemporary education. She is especially responsible for the curriculum of environmental, primary and secondary science.

Panagiotis Piliouras, Ministry of Education

Panagiotis PILIOURAS attained his Ph.D. in science education in 2006 at the Pedagogical Department of Primary Education of the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens. His research interest is focused on teaching science in a collaborative inquiry model, social interaction in learning and instruction, and sociocultural perspectives in science education. He is currently working as teacher advisor in the 2nd Educational Division of Primary Education, Prefecture of Attiki, Greece.

George Efthimiou

George EFTHIMIOU was born in the U.S.A. and is currently living in Greece. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at the University of Ioannina and is studying for his master’s degree in Science and Technologies in Informatics and Communications in Early Childhood Education. He is currently working as a Mathematics teacher in Ioannina.

How to Cite
Plakitsi, K., Piliouras, P., & Efthimiou, G. (2016). Discourse Analysis: A Tool for Helping Educators to Teach Science. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-18.1.2397