ERG SES G12, Education, Management and Teachers' Practice
Questions are an important tool for teachers to motivate and develop students’ interests, evaluate students’ preparation, nurture students’ insights, assess achievement of instructional goals and objectives among others. Research on classroom practice indicates that teachers often use questions which mainly call for students’ recall of facts, neglecting those questions which promote students’ thinking. This kind of practice is said to have persisted for over a century despite many calls for changes from education researchers. Studies however which unfold the teachers’ knowledge and perceptions concerning the use of questions in classrooms are rare. Unfolding teachers’ knowledge about questioning gives insight into the required form of interventions to change the practice as it informs what teachers know and the reasons for the practice. We think the unsuccessful calls for change in the teachers’ questioning practice may be due to lack of knowledge about the logic of the teachers’ practice. Our study aims at providing information on why teachers act the way they do.
A brief review of literature
In the first empirical study on classroom practice Stevens found teachers to ask an average of 395 questions per day of which the majority were factual (Stevens, 1912). In a review of the use of questions in teaching Gall concluded that consistently over the last 60 years 60% of teacher questions were factual, 20% procedural and only 20% of the questions required students to think (Gall, 1970). More recent studies on classroom practice come to similar conclusions, reporting teachers to ask many factual questions at a high rate with minimal opportunity for students to benefit from asked questions (Dillon, 1990; Hannel, 2009; Lee & Kinzie, 2012).
For over 60 years, researchers working on teacher questions have worked towards improving classroom questioning. Educators (Bloom, 1956; Gallagher & Aschner, 1963; Guszak, 1967; Marzano, 2001; Smith, Meux, & Coombs, 1960) developed and recommended question classification taxonomies to help teachers in question formulation However these question taxonomies have remained in research articles and books. Either teachers have chosen to neglect these taxonomies for reasons known to them, or the taxonomies themselves are not known to teachers. And perhaps they have had minimum impact on the teachers’ way of questioning.
Exploring research on teaching and teacher education, Anderson sought for reasons why teachers made little use of Bloom’s taxonomy. Some of the issues raised were time factor, teachers’ beliefs and the complexity of the taxonomy (Anderson, 1994). Researchers in the past focused more on explaining types of questions asked in classrooms, leaving aside questioners (teachers). Yet teachers’ knowledge and competencies can be vital in implementing such innovations and recommendations from educational research.
We sought to find out what teachers think and say regarding their own practice, considering the following research questions;
Which type of questions do teachers use in their classroom teaching and how do they characterize these questions?
What reasons do teachers hold for the way they question their learners?
1. Anderson, L. W. (1994). Research on Teaching and Teacher Education. In L. W. Anderson & L. A. Sosniak (Eds.), Bloom’s taxonomy: a forty year retrospective (Vol. 93, pp. 139-141). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2. Baker, C. (1997). Ethnomethodological Studies of Talk in Educational Settings. In B. Davies & D. Corson (Eds.), Oral Discourse and Education (Vol. 3, pp. 43-52): Springer Netherlands. 3. Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Education Goals. Cognitive Domain: Longman. 4. Dillon, J. T. (1990). The Practice of Questioning: Routledge London. 5. Feldman, M. S. (1995). Strategies for interpreting qualitative data (Vol. 33): Sage. 6. Freebody, P., & Freiberg, J. (2011). Ethnomethodological research in education and the social sciences: Studying “the business, identities and cultures” of classrooms. Methodological choice and design: Scholarship, policy and practice in social and educational research, 79-92. 7. Gall, M. D. (1970). The Use of Questions in Teaching. Review of Educational Research, 40(5), 707-721. 8. Gallagher, J. J., & Aschner, M. J. (1963). A Preliminary Report on Analyses of Classroom Interaction. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavior and Development, 9(3), 183-194. doi: 10.2307/23082786 9. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. 10. Guszak, F. J. (1967). Teacher Questioning and Reading. The Reading Teacher, 227-234. 11. Hannel, I. (2009). Insufficient Questioning. The Phi Delta Kappan, 91(3), 65-69. doi: 10.2307/40345093 12. James A. Holstein, & Jaber F. Gubrium. (2003). Ethnomethodological Analyses of Interviews. Inside Interviewing. SAGE Publications, Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 13. Lee, Y., & Kinzie, M. B. (2012). Teacher Question and Student Response with Regard to Cognition and Language Use. Instructional Science: An International Journal of the Learning Sciences, 40(6), 857-874. 14. Marzano, R. J. (2001). Designing a New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press. 15. Silverman, D. (2006). Interpreting qualitative data (3 ed.): Sage. 16. Smith, B. O., Meux, M. O., & Coombs, J. (1960). A Study of the Logic of Teaching: University of Illinois Press Urbana, Illinois. 17. Stevens, R. (1912). The Question as a Measure of Efficiency in Instruction: A Critical Study of Class-room Practice: Teachers college, Columbia university. 18. Wittgenstein, L. (2009). Hacker, PMS and Schulte, J (translators, editors)(2009) Philosophical Investigations: The German Text with an English Translation: Oxford UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
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