Less is more: Teachers' influence during peer collaboration

Tzu Jung Lin*, May Jadallah, Richard C. Anderson, Amanda R. Baker, Kim Nguyen-Jahiel, Il Hee Kim, Li Jen Kuo, Brian W. Miller, Ting Dong, Xiaoying Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This study examined the influence of teachers' instructional moves on students' relational thinking during small-group collaborative discussions. One hundred and twenty 4th grade students and 6 teachers participated in a series of 10 discussions, generating a video-recorded corpus containing 32,511 turns for speaking. A microanalysis of a subset of the corpus showed that teacher prompts for relational thinking, rather than lower level prompts or prompts for evaluation, had an immediate effect on student relational thinking, triggering further relational thinking from students over several speaking turns. Students were unlikely to emulate a teacher's relational thinking strategy but highly likely to emulate another student's. Behavioral management but not cognitive management increased the likelihood of relational thinking. Specific praise for cognitive or social strategies enhanced relational thinking, and the bidirectional association between praise and relational thinking suggested a transactional model of teacher-student interaction. The results underscore the importance of teacher influences in peer collaboration, even when the absolute rate of teacher talk is low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-629
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative reasoning
  • Modeling
  • Peer collaboration
  • Praise
  • Relational thinking
  • Scaffolding


Dive into the research topics of 'Less is more: Teachers' influence during peer collaboration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this