Open lecture with Professor Catherine Snow

"Learning from talking: The importance of discussion as a source of knowledge from kindergarten through secondary school".

Learning from talking

Accumulating evidence about effective educational approaches highlights the value of discussion.

In the preschool and primary grades, programs that promote reading aloud and language-focused discussion of the text are effective. In middle and later grades, debates and topic-focused discussion as preparation for reading and as a post-reading activity deepen comprehension.

The cognitive principles that help explain the value of discussion and the developmental principles that help us understand how to adapt it to students of different ages need more attention from educational researchers.

Professor Catherine Snow

Catherine Snow is the Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and professor II at Faculty of Education, University of Oslo.

Her research interests include

  • children's language development as influenced by interaction with adults in home and preschool settings
  • literacy development as related to language skills and as influenced by home and school factors
  • issues related to the acquisition of English oral and literacy skills by language minority children.

Catherine Snow has co-authored books on language development and on literacy development, and published widely on these topics in peer-reviewed articles and edited volumes.

Her deep knowledge and interest in connecting theory and practice has made her a highly appreciated member of national committees on complex issues in the intersection between science and educational politics. Among other things she has chaired two US national panels: the National Academy of Sciences committee that prepared the report "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children," and the Rand Reading Study Group that prepared "Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension."

Catherine Snow is currently involved in efforts to improve middle-school literacy outcomes, in partnership with Boston area researchers and the Boston Public Schools.


Professor Bente E. Hagtvet, Department of Special Needs Education and professor Ivar Bråten, Department of Education. 

Published Oct. 4, 2012 11:21 AM - Last modified Oct. 4, 2012 11:23 AM