Answerability in the classroom: Applying dialogism to the teaching of composition




Madore, Joel

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This mixed-methods study investigated the association between instructors’ answerability in the classroom and an increase in student learning. For this study, answerability was considered to be achieved by instructors when their written teaching philosophies and their actual classroom practices both reflect their internally persuasive discourse. The study hypothesized that students of instructors who demonstrated answerability would show more improvement in their writing than students of instructors who were not able to achieve answerability due to the instructors’ struggles between how they wanted to teach—their internally persuasive discourse—and how they felt they ought to teach—the externally authoritative discourse. The study results indicate that answerability is positively associated with an increase in student learning. The existence of a positive association between instructor answerability and an increase in student learning proves that applying dialogism to the classroom is not only appropriate but critical in order to explore as many avenues as possible toward success in the classroom.

Chapter One introduces how the implementation of an instructor’s teaching philosophy statement relates to student learning and how Bakhtin’s dialogic concept of answerability applies to the classroom. Chapter Two presents scholarship pertaining to statements of teaching philosophies and briefly reviews pedagogical applications of Bakhtin before exploring the appropriateness of conducting dialogic discourse analyses and applying the concept of answerability in educational contexts and then ending with a look at the limited research pertaining to the interaction between teaching philosophies and student learning. Chapter Three explains the rationale for the mixed-methods approach, details the research methodology of the semester-long data collection process and analyses procedures, and presents the instruments developed for the study. Chapter Four details the qualitative findings from instructor-participant case studies conducted and the quantitative findings from the writing samples gathered during the research study and presents the associations between instructor’s achievements of answerability and increases in student learning. Chapter Five presents the summation, limitations and recommendations, significance, and implications of the research study; provides suggestions for teacher trainers, search committees, individual instructors, and future researchers; and closes with final remarks regarding how the study has informed the researcher’s own practices.



Language, literature and linguistics, Education, Bakhtin, Mikhail, First-year composition, Mixed methods study, Student learning, Teaching philosophy statements, Language arts, Pedagogy