Special Issue: Assessment – Mentoring – Teacher Education

Original Research Article


Vol. 13, No. 2, , pp. 3955

Teachers’ regard for adolescent perspectives in feedback dialogues with students in lower-secondary schools

Kim-Daniel Vattøy Faculty of Humanities and Education, Volda University College. Email: kim-daniel.vattoy@hivolda.no

Siv M. Gamlem Faculty of Humanities and Education, Volda University College. Email: siv.therese.maseidvag.gamlem@hivolda.no


The teacher is a key agent in facilitating for adolescent perspectives during lessons. Feedback dialogues have an inherent capacity to capitalise on or undervalue adolescent perspectives in instruction and learning. The present study focused on lower-secondary school teachers’ regard for adolescent perspectives in feedback dialogues with students in lessons on English as a foreign language (EFL, n = 65) and mathematics (n = 113). The data material consisted of video recordings coded with the regard for adolescent perspectives dimension in the Classroom Assessment Scoring System–Secondary Manual. Teacher–student interactions in both EFL and mathematics lessons generally showed scores in the low range for regard for adolescent perspectives. The mathematics lessons had consistently lower scores for quality. Four cases represented the maximum and minimum mean scores for the dimension, regard for adolescent perspectives, in the observed lessons. These cases provided examples of episodes when teachers either succeeded or failed to make room for adolescent perspectives in teacher–student interactions. The results indicate that attention to adolescent perspectives seems to be a neglected aspect of feedback dialogues in lower-secondary school.

Keywords: assessment, classroom interactions, English as a foreign language, mathematics, adolescent perspectives


Læreres hensyn til ungdomsperspektiver i tilbakemeldingsdialoger med elever i ungdomsskolen

Læreren er en nøkkelperson i å legge til rette for ungdomsperspektiver i undervisningen. Tilbakemeldingsdialoger har en iboende kapasitet til å styrke eller undervurdere ungdomsperspektiver i undervisning og læring. Denne studien fokuserte på ungdomsskolelæreres hensyn til ungdomsperspektiver i tilbakemeldingsdialoger med elever i engelsk- (n = 65) og matematikkundervisning (n = 113). Datamaterialet bestod av videoopptak kodet med «hensyn til ungdomsperspektiver»-dimensjonen i Classroom Assessment Scoring System–Secondary Manual. Lærer–elev interaksjoner i både engelsk og matematikk viste generelt skårer i det lavere området for hensyn til ungdomsperspektiver. Matematikktimene hadde konsekvent lavere kvalitetsskårer. Fire caser representerte maksimum- og minimumsgjennomsnittskårer for dimensjonen, hensyn til ungdomsperspektiver, i de observerte timene. Disse casene viste eksempler på episoder der lærere enten lyktes eller feilet med å gi rom til ungdomsperspektiver i lærer–elev interaksjoner. Resultatene indikerer at oppmerksomhet rundt ungdomsperspektiver ser ut til å være et forsømt aspekt av tilbakemeldingsdialoger i ungdomsskolen.

Nøkkelord: vurdering; klasseromsinteraksjoner; engelsk; matematikk; ungdomsperspektiver

© 2019 Kim-Daniel Vattøy and Siv M. Gamlem. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ().

& (). Teachers’ regard for adolescent perspectives in feedback dialogues with students in lower-secondary schools. Nordisk tidsskrift for utdanning og praksis, 13[2], 3955.

Regard for adolescent perspectives

Teachers’ attention to providing space for adolescent perspectives using dialogues has been identified as vital to learning (Bru, Stornes, Munthe, & Thuen, 2010; Eccles et al., 1993). Regard for adolescent perspectives can be understood as the degree to which teachers emphasise adolescent perspectives regarding flexibility, connections to current life, support for autonomy and leadership, and meaningful peer interactions (Pianta, Hamre, & Mintz, 2012). Many students do not believe that their school experiences have any real-world relevance or connection, leading to disaffection and withdrawal from school life (Zyngier, 2008). A focus on students’ voices, though, helps to open up support for engagement, autonomy and leadership, which is significant for teacher-student interactions with regard for adolescent perspectives (Pianta et al., 2012). The term ‘student voice’ describes students’ ability to give input on what happens within the school and classroom (Fletcher, 2017). In primary and secondary school, student voice has been understood as giving students the ability to influence learning, including relevant policies, programmes, contexts, and principles (Harper, 2003). Focusing on voice, therefore, can facilitate more engagement in students’ learning (Cook-Sather, 2002; Pianta et al., 2012). Teachers’ regard for adolescent perspectives in student learning also has the potential to empower students to take leadership and responsibility and see the future need and value of their own skills (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Bru et al., 2010; Smith, Gamlem, Sandal, & Engelsen, 2016; Pianta et al., 2012), as well as allow them to explore their passions and take pride in their own ideas and opinions (Cook-Sather, 2002).

The research questions guiding the present study are:

i. To what extent are adolescent perspectives capitalised on in feedback dialogues among teachers and students in English as a foreign language (EFL) and mathematics lessons?

ii. How is regard for adolescent perspectives facilitated in feedback dialogues for four cases representing maximum and minimum mean scores in EFL and mathematics lessons?

Regard for adolescent perspectives in feedback dialogues in school

The present study examines teachers’ regard for adolescent perspectives in teacher– student feedback dialogues in lower-secondary school. Eccles and colleagues (1993) claimed that teachers’ support for students’ autonomy and co-determination is crucial for developing learning environments that engage young people. A central question, therefore, is whether teaching is centred on the interests of the teacher or the students (Hamre & Pianta, 2010). Teacher–student interactions that recognise adolescent perspectives are flexible and open up space for students to share their ideas (Pianta et al., 2012). Researchers have claimed that teachers who investigate and build on adolescents’ experiences, understanding, and thinking can better support students’ development of understanding and engagement, by functioning as scaffolds for learning (Gamlem & Munthe, 2014; Black & Wiliam, 2009; Bransford et al., 2000).

Adolescents’ perspectives do not always align with teachers’ perspectives (Gamlem & Smith, 2013; Gamlem, 2015; Vattøy & Smith, 2019). However, if teaching is to enhance learning, students’ understandings and beliefs need to be identified, listened to and used (Bransford et al., 2000). A study on students’ perceptions of teaching quality examined the inter-rater consistency between fourth-grade students’ and observers’ ratings and found that both students’ and observers’ scores had high reliability (van der Scheer, Bijlsma, & Glas, 2019). The results from van der Scheer et al. (2019) thus acknowledge the relevance of students’ perspectives in classroom teaching. A study also found that there were significant differences between students’ and teachers’ perceptions of feedback practices across subjects in upper-secondary school (Havnes, Smith, Dysthe, & Ludvigsen, 2012).

Researchers have investigated the dialogic nature of feedback practices (Gamlem & Smith, 2013; Gamlem & Munthe, 2014; Steen-Utheim & Wittek, 2017). In this context, the concept of responsive pedagogy has highlighted how recursive dialogues between learners’ internal feedback and external feedback provided by significant others can support a dialogic focus on the perspectives of adolescents and young learners (Smith et al., 2016; Vattøy & Smith, 2019). However, using assessment as a pedagogical tool requires that schools and society embrace a culture of assessment for learning (Black & Wiliam, 2018; Smith, 2015). Decision-making, autonomy, relevance, meaningful interactions, and valuing of students’ opinions, therefore, are considered as crucial components of learning environments that enhance learning and adolescent perspectives (Eccles et al., 1993; Hamre & Pianta, 2010). What seems to make a focus on adolescent perspectives noticeable is the willingness of educators and others to listen to students’ voices and integrate their perspectives (Fletcher, 2017).

The conceptual extension of teachers’ assessment identity, defined as beliefs, feelings, knowledge and skills (Looney, Cumming, van der Kleij, & Harris, 2018), has been suggested as a necessary concept to advance the present understanding of factors affecting teachers’ assessment. Importantly, teachers’ assessment identity extends beyond teachers’ skills and capabilities to encompass their confidence and dispositions. Previous research has also found that teachers’ assessment literacy affects their decisions to engage in or refrain from entering dialogues with students (Engelsen & Smith, 2014; Smith, 2015). Assessment literacy is understood as teachers’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to assessment practices (Popham, 2009; Stiggins, 1991). Yet, teachers’ confidence in the effectiveness of assessment processes are crucial to their identity and practices (Looney et al., 2018). Beliefs related to students’ learning through assessment processes affect teachers’ facilitation of students’ perspectives and co-determination.

Hamre and Pianta (2010) found that teachers with high regard for adolescent perspectives are more sensitive to students’ ideas and grant them a more formative role. Real-world communicative competence relies on the affective and emotional aspects of teaching (Illés & Akcan, 2017). However, real-world connections in teaching do not necessarily mean that teacher–student interactions allow room for adolescent perspectives (Pianta et al., 2012). Teachers’ attention to adolescent perspectives is related to the perceived usefulness of feedback content. A study on mathematics instruction found that students perceive feedback as more useful when it is used under a formative assessment condition, which implies that it is relevant to their lives and interests (Rakoczy et al., 2018). Nevertheless, students may refrain from actively participating in feedback dialogues if there is a lack of trust and mutual respect with teachers (Gamlem & Smith, 2013; Steen-Utheim & Wittek, 2017), as a hostile environment threatens to create distance between teachers’ and students’ perspectives.

Recent studies in lower-secondary schools have found low quality scores for the dimension regard for adolescent perspectives (e.g., Gamlem & Munthe, 2014; Virtanen et al., 2018; Westergård, Ertesvåg, & Rafaelsen, 2018). The Teaching Through Interactions (TTI) framework, which serves as the theoretical background for the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), construes the classroom as a learning system consisting of interactions between teachers and students (Hafen et al., 2015; Hamre et al., 2013). The TTI framework operationalises classroom interactions within three broad domains (emotional support, classroom organisation and instructional support), further divided into dimensions, indicators and behavioural markers (Pianta et al., 2012). Regard for adolescent perspectives is one of the three dimensions in the emotional support domain of CLASS (Pianta et al., 2012), and refers to teachers’ capacity to effectively use students’ active roles, peer interactions, need for autonomy and connections to current life (Allen et al., 2013). Regard for adolescent perspectives has four indicators: flexibility and adolescent focus, connections to current life, support for autonomy and leadership, and meaningful peer interactions (Pianta et al., 2012). Each indicator has behavioural markers that can be observed in teacher–student interactions (See Table 1).

Table 1: Descriptions of regard for adolescent perspectives in the Classroom Assessment Scoring System—Secondary (Pianta et al., 2012, p. 35)



The participants were 18 teachers: nine EFL teachers and nine mathematics teachers in Norway. This amounted to a total of 13 EFL classrooms (n = 65 lessons, 3,325 minutes of recording), as some of the teachers were observed in more than one classroom, and nine mathematics classrooms (n = 113 lessons, 5,085 minutes of recording). The EFL teachers were recruited from two lower-secondary schools and the mathematics teachers from three lower-secondary schools. The EFL teachers and mathematics teachers were recruited from separate classrooms. The schools’ head teachers were contacted first, and then the classroom teachers and students were invited. The researchers provided information about the study and handed out informed-consent forms. The students had to deliver signed, informed consent from their parents to be included in the study. The participating teachers and students, along with the students’ parents and guardians, agreed for the lessons to be video recorded.


The quality of regard for adolescent perspectives in teacher–student interactions was scored using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System–Secondary (CLASS-S) (Pianta et al., 2012). The dimension was scored on a 7-point Likert scale with 1–2 representing low quality, 3–5 medium quality and 6–7 high quality (Pianta et al., 2012). Table 1 shows an overview of the dimension, regard for adolescent perspectives, in the CLASS-S measure (Pianta et al., 2012).

CLASS is one of many different analytical frameworks to choose from when conducting classroom video observation. The CLASS framework is designed to create a common metric and vocabulary that can be used to describe various aspects of quality across year levels and to have the same domains and dimensions applied to different year levels. Scoring for quality is determined by the quality of teachers’ social and instructional interactions with students, as well as the intentionality and productivity evident in classroom settings (Pianta et al., 2012). In CLASS, the focus is on what teachers do with the materials they have and on the teacher–student interactions to support learning.

Uses of observation manuals in educational settings have been mistakenly assumed to be the ‘gold standard’ of assessment without any further nuancing, for example, the choice of observation system to the phenomenon (Gregory & Mikami, 2015; Hardman & Hardman, 2017). Further, Gregory and Mikami (2015) urge for developmental sensitivity and consideration when using coding frameworks and use the ‘support for autonomy and leadership’ indicator of the regard for adolescent perspectives dimension (CLASS-S) as an example, arguing that this indicator relates to healthy adolescent development. As such, it should be emphasised that the CLASS-S should only be used at the secondary level as it presupposes a development level of the students from Year 8–13. These considerations were made for the present study.


To collect data the EFL lessons were recorded by two video cameras, capturing different angles of the classroom. One camera was handheld and operated by the researcher, while the other freestanding camera was facing the students. The camera primarily used in the analysis was connected to an audio sender/receiver and captured teacher–student communication. The mathematics teachers recorded the lessons themselves by placing a camera on a tripod and making sure it captured the whole class. All the teachers in the study wore collar-clip microphones during the recorded lessons. No special teaching plans or curriculum were made for data collection. Teachers should conduct their lessons as usual.

Two CLASS-S-certified observers scored the videos. Every lesson was scored in cycles of 15–20 minutes, amounting to three times each lesson. Further, the mean score for each lesson was calculated based on the three scores: (a + b + c)/3. Inter-rater reliability was higher than 0.80 in percent agreement, which is in accordance with the CLASS-S (Pianta et al., 2012).

Maximum and minimum cases

The sampling strategy for analysing cases is applied when investigating maximum variation more in-depth (Shakir, 2002). Cases with maximum and minimum mean scores for the quality of regard for adolescent perspectives in teacher–student interactions can exemplify and contrast the variation within a sample. In this study, we sampled the teachers in EFL and mathematics who had lessons with lowest minimum mean scores and the teachers who had lessons with highest minimum mean scores for the dimension regard for adolescent perspectives (n = 4; Pianta et al., 2012). For the maximum and minimum cases we present the results from the video observations in more detail by analysing how indicators and behavioural markers are present in the cases.


The descriptive statistics of the teacher profiles for the CLASS-S dimension regard for adolescent perspectives are presented in this section. The EFL lessons (M = 2.98) had a higher mean score than the mathematics lessons (M = 2.35), but both data sets had low-mid scores (see Table 2). The EFL lessons’ mean scores ranged from 2.43 to 4.39, while the mathematics lessons’ mean scores ranged from 1.81 to 2.85. The lowest mean score for an individual EFL lesson was 1.33, indicating a score of 1.00 for two of the lesson’s three score cycles: (a + b + c)/ 3 = 1.33. The highest mean score for an individual EFL lesson was 5.67, close to a high-quality score. The lowest mean score for an individual mathematics lesson was 1.00, while the highest mean score for an individual lesson was 5.00.

Table 2: Descriptive statistics for regard for adolescent perspectives (n = 18 teachers).

Table 2 shows that compared to the mathematics lessons the EFL lessons had higher mean scores for teacher–student interactions related to regard for adolescent perspectives. In the results there was not much variation in the quality of the mathematics classes, which all had low mean scores for the dimension regard for adolescent perspectives.

The results from both data sets, but particularly the mathematics lessons, indicated a lack of focus on adolescents, with infrequent opportunities for the students to promote their own choices, thoughts, beliefs and experiences concerning the curriculum-related tasks. The teachers seemed to rarely build on the students’ responses and initiatives, but occasionally gave the students opportunities to decide which assignments they wanted to do, as well as opportunities for peer work and flexibility to move around.

Maximum and minimum cases: EFL lessons

Maximum and minimum cases of the regard for adolescent perspectives dimension in the EFL lessons were selected based on the lowest and highest mean scores: EFL teacher 1 (M = 2.43) and EFL teacher 9 (M = 4.39). EFL teacher 1 had a rigid framework for teacher–student interactions, in which the questions were mainly factual and reproduced right or wrong answers. The facilitation of the lessons had potential to enable active student discussions, but the students were often asked to read to each other instead. Consequently, there was a lack of adolescent focus, and the students were infrequently given responsibility for their learning processes.

In the following episode, as part of learning about other countries’ cultures, EFL teacher 1 organised a task for the students to think of possible reasons for celebrating Australia Day. The teacher had clear opinions on the topic and did not give the students opportunities to discuss the complexity of the issue or relate it to their own lives. The feedback dialogues were mainly one directional with one correct answer. The students were asked to read to each other instead and, in the following example, the teacher also struggled with students’ misbehaviour. EFL teacher 1 showed low attention to the students’ perspectives and connection to current life.

[The teacher is at the front of the classroom and shouts at the students. Many students are not looking up or paying attention.]

T: I want you to read your texts to each other in groups. And I suppose you all agree that this is quite clear, no? Do you agree? It’s quite clear what the answer is. I don’t think there are many different opinions on what to think about this issue. [Student], please close the door for me. But do you know what? What’s special about this is that they still celebrate this day in Australia. There have been other invasions elsewhere on the planet. Can any one of you think of something? Has Norway invaded another country?

S1: *inaudible*

T: When?

S1: Vikings.

T: Yes, the Vikings invaded Ireland. They raped, they stole people, they burnt buildings, they stole property, and they even settled down there. This was thousands of years ago … Gutter! *frowns* Bare legg ned skjermen. [Boys, just put the screen down.]

(EFL teacher 1, March 2018)

EFL teacher 9 had an average score (M = 4.39) for regard for adolescent perspectives in Data set 1, with a maximum score of 5.67 for an individual lesson. An example of a lesson with a mid-range mean score for this teacher included a dialogue with a student. In this part of the lesson, the students were engaged in peer dialogues and had some flexibility regarding seating. The objective of the EFL lesson was to discuss hobbies and interests using the target language, and the task at hand was to discuss what the students did over the weekend. On one occasion, the teacher joined in a discussion with one student, eagerly interested in the student’s lifeworld and perspectives. The following teacher–student exchange included several follow-up questions in which the teacher showed regard for the student’s perspective. After monitoring the classroom, the teacher asked students to tell the class what their peers did during the weekend. In terms of dialogue, the extract below shows that the teacher expands on the student answer at some length. Teacher control could have been reduced by allowing for more student autonomy in this episode, for example, through peer feedback.

[The teacher monitors the classroom and walks over to two students who are chatting.]

S1: Jeg spilte … [I played.]

T: Try to talk in English. What did you do?

S1: I played a video game.

T: A video game?

S1: Yes, with [name of boy] and [name of boy].

T: What do you do in the video game?

S1: It’s a survival game.

T: Is it a first-person shooter?

S1: Yes. Then you picked up the scope and headshot. *laughs*

T: *laughs* What else did you do?

S1: Vi var på hytta. Hva heter det? [We were at the cabin. What’s it called?]

T: Cabin?

S1: Yes, and jacuzzi.

T: Do you have a jacuzzi in your cabin?

S1: Yes.

T: Hot macaroni!


[The teacher is now at the front seated on a desk facing the students]

T: So [Student 2], what did [Student 3] do during the weekend?

S2: She danced at the studio and she went to the city.

T: Details, please.

S2: Oh gosh, okay. Erm. So, on Tuesday, she was at the studio, right?

S3: Monday and Tuesday.

S2: Monday and Tuesday. And on Wednesday I think she was in [name of city]. But not at the shopping centre district, but in the city centre.

T: Yes, that sounds exciting!

(EFL teacher 9, December 2017)

Maximum and minimum cases: Mathematics lessons

The maximum and minimum cases of the regard for adolescent perspectives dimension in the mathematics lessons were Mathematics teacher 1 (M = 1.81) and Mathematics teacher 9 (M = 2.85). Mathematics teacher 1 was found to lack flexibility and student focus, and instruction was rarely connected to the students’ current lives. The maximum score for an individual lesson in the dimension regard for adolescent perspectives was 2.00. This score indicates that the teacher rigidly provided the entire structure, did not connect the material to the students’ current lives, denied them support for autonomy and leadership and discouraged meaningful peer interactions. In these lessons, the teacher told the students what assignments they had to do and how they should do their work. The students were not given opportunities for leadership or autonomy but sat by themselves and were seldom allowed to talk with their peers. They carried out their work individually and in silence. The following example shows typical teacher–student interactions for Mathematics teacher 1, who displayed low attention to flexibility, and a lack of student focus and support for autonomy. All the conversations took place in the participants’ first language and were translated into English in this excerpt.

[The teacher stands in front of the class, looking at the students.]

T: Has everyone received a copy of the exam paper and the course list that I handed out yesterday?

S1: [Raises hand]

T: You haven’t got it?

S1: No.

T: [The teacher gives a copy to the student.] Here, you are.

S1: Thank you.

T: One tip to everyone is that you now have the exam paper and the course list in front of you, and as you go through all the assignments, you can find the topics on the course list and cross out an assignment when it is done. It’s a good idea because you get an overview of what you have gone through. Okay, start calculating!

S: [The students work in silence.]

(Mathematics teacher 1, January 2017)

Among the nine mathematics classes, Mathematics teacher 9 had the highest mean score for regard for adolescent perspectives (M = 2.85). The maximum score was 4.00 for Mathematics teacher 9, indicating that the teacher provided some flexibility and adolescent focus, sometimes connected the material to the students’ current lives, allowed some autonomous choices and occasionally permitted peer interactions. In this classroom, the teacher allowed the students to choose which assignments they would do to practice calculation. The students were sometimes given leadership opportunities in classroom discussions. They were seated in pairs, so they more readily had opportunities to discuss task solutions and strategies with their peers. The teacher–student interactions exemplified mid-range attention to flexibility and support for autonomy.

[The teacher completes a review of various calculations on the board. The teacher looks at the students in the classroom.]

T: Now, you can choose which assignments in your book and the pamphlets you would like to work with. There are three routes based on levels. Decide if you should work some more with fractions or if you should start with the assignments related to percentages. Choose what seems most useful to you. [The teacher looks at the students in the class and walks towards one student]. What assignment would you like to start with?

S1: I’m on holiday. [Smiles]

T: Hm, no? [Smiles]

S1: I started my holiday yesterday. [Laughs]

T: Then we’ll start again today. [Smiles] What do you think? How do you find the tasks where you convert?

S1: Convert?

T: Yes, decimal numbers and fractions.

S1: That’s okay.

T: Did you complete level 2?

S1: Yes, but my mind is focusing on other things.

T: Yes?

S1: I’m thinking that I should have done the dishes at home. [The boy had his confirmation party the day before.]

T: Yes, but you can’t do much about that now. What’s smart to do now is to try to learn how to focus on what you can do right now.

S1: Yes, but this is how I am like, thinking all the time. I should have done the dishes. Then Mum wouldn’t have needed to.

T: It’s nice that you think of others. Yes, but what you can do now is to work with maths tasks, and then you can instead direct your thoughts to how well you learn about percentages. What do you think? I suggest you try out some assignments on percentages on level 2. Choose some tasks and decide how you want to do it. Would you like to discuss this with a peer? Work now. I will come back to you in a while. [The teacher leaves.]

S1: [Looks in his workbook, talks with the peer sitting beside the student and smiles].


T: [The teacher returns to the student.] How is everything?

S1: Good!

T: Did you work on the same task? [Looks at the student and the learning partner]

S1: I have done assignment 7.12.

S2: I have done 7.10.

T: Have you checked the answers to the key? [The teacher checks.] Mm, you have the same answers.

S1: Yes.

T: If you are unsure about how to do it, what could you do then?

S1: Raise my hand for help.

T: Or before that?

S1: Ask my learning partner [peer].

T: Yes, and you can also check the solution proposal in your book. Avoid doubting whether you did it right or not. Please use these strategies for further work. Keep it up! [The teacher leaves the student.]

(Mathematics teacher 9, 9 May 2017)

The four cases demonstrate differences in teachers’ regard for adolescent perspectives in EFL and mathematics lessons. Although they represent maximum and minimum mean score variation, they do not represent the full variation of low to high score in the regard for adolescent perspectives dimension. EFL teacher 9 and Mathematics teacher 9 show some examples of practice in which indicators of the regard for adolescent perspectives dimension are elicited, for example: flexibility and adolescent focus, connections to current life, and peer interactions.

General discussion

The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which adolescent perspectives are capitalised on or undervalued in teacher–student feedback interactions in lower-secondary schools. The results showed low scores for regard for adolescent perspectives, an important dimension of teachers’ emotional support (Pianta et al., 2012), in both subjects and across all lessons but especially in mathematics. Despite recent calls for a change in mindset to legitimise adolescent perspectives as influences on the development of educational policies and practices (Cook-Sather, 2002), the present study found that adolescent perspectives in feedback dialogues seemed to be of generally low quality and mostly neglected in lower-secondary teachers’ practices. Joint negotiation between teachers and students occurs when there is mutual trust and respect in feedback dialogues (Gamlem & Smith, 2013), but the results of this study revealed a lack of inclusion of adolescent perspectives in these dialogues.

Student voices can enable students to explore their beliefs, understandings and passions and take pride in their ideas and opinions (Fletcher, 2017; Harper, 2003), but they seemed to be rarely valued by the teachers in the lessons observed in the present study. The teachers with the low mean scores exercised an especially high degree of control and seemed to not allow the students to be heard to the same extent as the teachers with the maximum mean scores. Increased focus on adolescent perspectives involves opening opportunities for the exercise of students’ voices and choices through practices that allow for ownership, empowerment and engagement (Smith et al., 2016; Zyngier, 2008).

The extracts from the four cases also show that feedback dialogues are crucial loci, in which adolescent perspectives can be capitalised on through a focus on their connection to current life, meaningful peer interactions, autonomy and adolescent focus. Research has indicated that dialogic feedback interactions that construct a way forward for students seem to be forgotten in classroom practices (Gamlem & Smith, 2013). Based on this research, we conclude that dialogic feedback interactions that display a high regard for adolescent perspectives are even rarer. In the present study, there was a range difference in the mean scores of the EFL and mathematics lessons, with the EFL lessons having a slightly higher range. The feedback dialogues with and without regard for adolescent perspectives presented in the four cases highlight practices with different levels of quality related to regard for adolescent perspectives, emphasising the importance of dialogue to invite and build on students’ perceptions and thoughts.

There is never a one-size-fits-all method for voice and choice (Fletcher, 2017); instead, these are constantly contextualised by teachers’ and students’ lives and experiences. However, sometimes, teachers might oversimplify the aspects of voice and choice and see them as what students create in their projects, or teachers might forget that they can engage, invite and listen to students in many ways. Facilitating situations in which students express their voices and make choices related to their products can be useful, but more opportunities to support engagement and student-centred learning are needed. The key element of adolescent perspectives implies important shifts in the roles of both teachers and students. Giving space for students to be more active participants in learning processes might allow for student-centred teaching practices to emerge.

Studies have suggested that the start of adolescence marks the beginning of a downward motivational spiral for some individuals, which coincides with fewer opportunities to participate in classroom decision-making (Bru et al., 2010; Eccles et al., 1993). The results of the present study display worrying differences in the quality of teacher–student interactions concerning regard for adolescent perspectives across 178 lessons in two subjects. The analysis also revealed that some lessons in the data sets completely lacked adolescent focus.


The lessons analysed in the present study were not randomly selected, so our results should not be generalised. Only a few lessons by each teacher were recorded, with five lessons as the minimum amount of lessons recorded per EFL teacher and seven lessons as the minimum amount of lessons per mathematics teacher. We call for more large-scale studies analysing the issues raised in this discussion. Furthermore, the dimension analysed in the present study, regard for adolescent perspectives, is one of many dimensions of the CLASS-S (Pianta et al., 2012) that can be used to study quality in teacher–student interactions. The researchers’ presence and the video observations of classroom teaching could have affected the teachers’ and students’ behaviour (Curby, Johnson, Mashburn, & Carlis, 2016), although multiple video observations per teacher helped the teachers become familiar with being recorded.

Implications and further research

This study contributes to the knowledge base on teacher–student interactions and feedback dialogues and their relationships to adolescents’ perspectives as a neglected dimension in lower-secondary schools. The results confirm previous research that has indicated that the dimension regard for adolescent perspectives appears to be undervalued in classroom interactions and learning (Gamlem & Munthe, 2014; Virtanen et al., 2018). This study’s practical implications for classroom practice include a greater focus on empowering students to express their perspectives and to negotiate during dialogues. However, the authorisation of adolescent perspectives must involve more than including students simply as a gesture. On the one hand, teachers need to reflect on their practices in terms of how they facilitate for adolescent focus in their teaching and the extent to which they allow for students’ flexibility and opportunity for autonomy. On the other, students should have extended opportunities for dialogues based on their voice and opinions about changes in educational practices (Cook-Sather, 2002). To achieve this aim, teachers might need opportunities to strengthen their assessment literacy regarding adolescent perspectives in pedagogical frameworks (Smith et al., 2016).


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