Quiet pupils can be effective learners

  • Gunnhildur Óskarsdóttir
  • Jón Torfi Jónasson
Keywords: Learning, quiet children, classroom discussion, primary school


This paper investigates the importance for pupils’ learning of being generally visibly active participant in a classroom discussion. A class of six year-old pupils was taught about the human skeletal system and other organs. To determine what they had learnt, they were asked to produce drawings before and after the course of teaching. The pupils’ participation in the class discussion during the course of teaching was given values on a scale from 1–8, the most talkative receiving the value 1 and the least talkative (or most quiet) the value 8. The study showed that the less talkative the pupils were in the discussion the more they gained from the teaching. The results could not be accounted for by ceiling effects and similar patterns obtained across the materials used support the robustness of the findings. The study suggests that it cannot be assumed that participating in classroom discussion during the learning process is a necessary precondition for learning.

Author Biographies

Gunnhildur Óskarsdóttir
School of Education, University of Iceland
Jón Torfi Jónasson
School of Education, University of Iceland