Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Frank Bramlett


The purpose of this research was to investigate the ways in which Montessori classrooms promote independence in the student. The system of turn-taking between teacher and student and between students in a Montessori classroom was employed in order to ascertain the ways in which classroom discourse impacts the independent learning experiences of the students. The method of research utilized was qualitative rather than quantitative. Classroom discourse in a Montessori classroom was observed and recorded, using an audio-recorder. The students were grouped according to age, six through nine years and first through third grades. The data indicate that within the Montessori classroom the discourse resides primarily between and among students rather than with the teacher. This is illustrated by the fact that there were more instances of turn-taking among students than between students and teacher. The four cognitive benefits of discourse among peers are: discourse as catalyst, discourse as the enactment of complimentary roles, discourse as relationship with an audience, and discourse as exploratory talk. This thesis analyzed the type of discourse used in the classroom and the way in which the discourse practices affect the learning experience of the students. Young children exhibit different ways of talking in certain situations by speaking in different ways to adults or their peers. A different way of talking is exhibited in teacher-student talk.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of English and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Kay Burke July, 2002