Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139


Classroom discourse analysis has contributed to understandings of the nature of student-teacher interactions, and how learning takes place in the classroom; however, much of this work has been undertaken in teacher-directed learning contexts. Student-centred classrooms such as problem-based learning (PBL) approaches are increasingly common in professional disciplines such as the health sciences and medicine. With the globalisation of education, health science and medical education, PBL classrooms are often sites of considerable linguistic and cultural diversity, yet little is known from a classroom discourse perspective about the language demands of PBL. This paper examines the ways in which the students and tutor negotiate and construct meanings through language in one first year physiotherapy PBL tutorial at an Australian university, with a particular focus on the ways in which the discourse is regulated in a student-centred learning environment. The analysis of the classroom discourse is underpinned by Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics. The findings provide a description of the linguistic resources students draw on to co-construct and negotiate knowledge, as well as show how the tutor, with minimal strategic interventions, scaffolds the students’ learning. The findings also suggest that the PBL environment can be a challenging one for students whose cultural and language backgrounds are different from that of the classroom.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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