DOI: 10.58680/rte20044461 ISSN: 0034-527X

Bridging Methodological Gaps: Instructional and Institutional Effects of Tracking in Two English Classes

Samantha Caughlan, Sean Kelly
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

Quantitative analyses using CLASS 3.0 software and qualitative discourse analyses were conducted of the instructional and institutional effects of tracking in high- and low-track American literature classes taught by the same teacher, a participant in a national study of the effects of dialogic classroom discourse patterns on student achievement. The quantitative analyses of class activities and discourse patterns revealed somewhat different amounts and kinds of dialogic discourse in the two classes, but could not account for much of the difference in achievement between the two groups. A more detailed qualitative analysis of teacher interviews and classroom discourse, using discourse analysis to look at both how the classroom discourse positioned students vis-à-vis course content, and how students in the two tracks were characterized by the teacher, showed how instruction was influenced by the teacher’s cultural models of students’ institutional identities. The teacher’s identification with the high-track students aided her in enacting a curriculum that was more academically challenging and more coherent, both intertextually and culturally. These analyses suggest that institutional and instructional effects of tracking are inextricably interwoven where the teacher’s conceptions of students’ needs and abilities constrain the level of instruction and the coherence of the curriculum.