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Making the tacit explicit: children's strategies for classroom writing

Silby, A. and Watts, M. (2015) Making the tacit explicit: children's strategies for classroom writing. British Educational Research Journal, 41 (5). pp. 801-819. ISSN 0141-1926

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/berj.3176


A key highlight of this study is generating evidence of children ‘making aware the unaware’, making tacit knowledge explicit. The research explores the levels of awareness in thinking used by eight 7–8 year-old children when engaged in school-based genre writing tasks. The focus is on analysing children’s awareness of their thought processes, using a framework originally devised by Swartz and Perkins (1989), in order to investigate ways in which children can transform their tacit knowledge to explicit within the writing process. Classroom ‘think aloud’ protocols are used to help children ‘manage their knowledge transfer’, to speak the unspoken. In their framework Swartz and Perkins distinguish between four levels of thought that they view as hierarchical and ‘increasingly metacognitive.’ However, there is little evidence in this study to show that levels of awareness in thinking are increasingly progressive and observations made during the study suggest that young writers move in and out of the suggested levels of thinking during different elements of a writing task. The reasons for this may depend on a number of factors which are noted in this paper. Evidence does suggest children in this age group are consciously aware of their own and others’ thought processes both with and without adult prompting. By using collaborative talk, their awareness of these thought processes is highlighted enabling the co-construction and integration of new ideas into their existing knowledge base.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:40507


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