27 SES 08 B, Literacy and Learning
Reading literacy is considered a key competence in the current information society, and the need for high levels of textual understanding is even more important as the concept of text continues to develop rapidly. According to the 2018 PISA framework, reading literacy is defined as “understanding, using, evaluating, reflecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential and to participate in society” (OECD 2018, p. 8). In line with the increasingly high demands for such complex text comprehension, there are high expectations on the school system to develop this competence.
In classroom teaching, questioning is regarded an essential element in the design of instruction and facilitation of learning (Lee & Kinzie, 2011), and it is well known from classroom research that teachers ask a large number of questions to students during whole class teaching (Dillon, 1990; Myhill, 2006). What kinds of questions they ask have been the focus of many studies (Lee & Kinzie, 2011; Nystrand, Gamoran, Kachur & Prendergast, 1997; Wu, 1993), which have exhibited the complexity of teacher questions and the myriad of functions, both cognitive and social, that these questions perform (Farrar, 1986). However, limited knowledge exists about what types of questions teachers use as part of their reading instruction in L1 lessons, as most of the studies of teacher questions are concerned with the form and functions of questions related to whole class teaching in general, and not reading specifically. Questioning can be used to prompt different ways of reading by providing different kinds of questions (e.g. questions that either require recall of specific facts, interpretations, reflection, creativity, or encourage critical thinking).
By comparing video observations from 178 recorded language arts lessons across 47 secondary classrooms from 45 schools (13-14 years old students) in Norway, this study identifies how teachers use questions as part of their whole class reading instruction. The main aim of this study is to analyze the types of questions applied by the teachers, and to investigate how different categories of questions are connected to informational and narrative texts respectively. These aspects can contribute to accumulating knowledge of how teachers target reading literacy development when employing the prominent teaching format of whole class questioning.
As a theoretical framework for categorizing types of teacher questions, this study applies the PISA literacy framework. The PISA reading literacy assessment aims at “measuring students master of reading processes (…) by varying the dimensions of text (…) and scenarios (…) with one or more thematically related texts” (OECD 2018, p. 12). The PISA framework is thus not only a tool for assessment, but provides essential guidelines for developing test questions that reflect different levels and components of reading comprehension. One of the main constructs measured by the PISA reading test is text processing, subsuming the three main categories Locate information, Understand and Evaluate and reflect. These categories are not only central to the measurement of students’ reading comprehension, they are also highly applicable and most useful for analyzing what types of questions teachers ask – and thereby also what kind of reading teachers emphasize and give priority to when reading and discussing texts in classrooms – which for many students involve the foundation for acquiring adequate reading literacy.
The use of video recordings has proven specifically valuable in doing classroom analysis, due to the possibility to systematically investigate complex educational settings (Heath, Hindmarsh, & Luff, 2010; Klette, 2009; Janik & Seidel, 2009), in providing a fine-grained multimodal record that enables researchers to perceive occurrences and utterances in detail (Jewitt, 2012; Blikstad-Balas, 2016). For this study, video recordings have been collected in 47 Norwegian Language Arts classrooms at 45 different schools across Norway, in the school year 2014/15. Four consecutive lessons were recorded from each class, amounting to a total of 178 lessons. The schools were sampled to include a variation regarding demographic and geographic spread, and student achievement, which means that both urban and rural schools across Norway participate, including schools with high and low gains on national tests in reading. The video design relied on two cameras in each classroom, one capturing the entire classroom and one focusing on the teacher. The videos were coded using the Protocol for Language Arts Teaching Observation (PLATO), a thoroughly validated protocol developed to observe key dimensions of effective language art teaching (Grossmann, 2015). This observation instrument consists of 12 coding categories which are rated on a scale from 1 - 4, depending on the extent of observable evidence related to distinct features of each category. A particularly relevant category for this study is Text-Based Instruction - use of text, which captures the degree to which students engage in language arts activities and discourse that are grounded in authentic texts (Grossman, 2015). All the lessons that scored 2, 3 or 4 on this category, and contained text-related teacher questions in whole class instruction specifically, have been analyzed further for this study. Questions were defined as utterances that invited the pupils to make a spoken response (cf. Myhill, 2006). The term text in this study refers to narrative and informational work containing written text. Questions about pictures and movies are excluded, while questions regarding text and images in context are included, such as music videos with lyrics, advertisements, comic strips etc. Questions connected to texts where the teachers' focus clearly is on writing skills rather than reading skills are not included. Thus, a total of 47 lessons (out of 178 lessons) were analyzed for this study.
In the present study, a total number of 796 questions were identified and analyzed, of which 582 questions can be defined into the PISA categories Locate information, Understand and Evaluate and Reflect. A key finding is that most questions are text-based questions targeting students' understanding of the text, as defined by the second PISA category of text processing. 57% of the questions (n = 582) can be defined into this category. 10,5% of the questions require students to locate information, hereby access and retrieve information within a text, while 32,5% of the questions challenge the students to evaluate and reflect, by assessing quality and credibility and reflecting on content and form. In addition, the analysis exhibits that many of the questions frequently asked by teachers in reading lessons are not directly connected to the text, but go beyond the text, to elicit students' experiences, knowledge and reflections of issues which are, more or less, thematically related to the text. In effect, 26,8% of the total amount of questions (n = 796) can be classified as "beyond the text"-questions, where students can answer the questions without actually having read the text. Further analysis will show more detailed classifications of questions within the three PISA categories, based on the teachers' emphasis on textual characteristics related to form and content. Further analysis will also display how the question categories are distributed in relation to informational and narrative texts. These findings are important for researchers and practitioners alike, as they show what aspects of the PISA framework (which has large influence across European countries and globally) are enacted and prioritized, and thus provide a picture of how this particular aspect of reading literacy development is targeted in a large sample of classrooms.
Blikstad-Balas, M. (2016). Key challenges of using video when investigating social practices ineducation: contextualization, magnification, and representation. InternationalJournal of Research & Method in Education, 04 may 2016, p. 1 - 13 Dillon, J. T. (1990). The practice of Questioning (International Series on Communication Skills). London: Routledge Farrar, M.T. (1986). Teacher questions: the complexity of the cognitively simple, Instructional Science, vol. 15, pp. 89-107 Grossman, P. (2015). Protocol for Langauge Arts Teaching Observations (PLATO 5.0). Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET), Stanford University, Palo Alto: Stanford Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J., & Luff, P. (2010). Video in qualitative research: analysing social interaction in everyday life. Los Angeles: Sage. Janik, T. & Seidel, T. (ed.) (2009). The Power of Video Studies in Investigating Teaching andLearning in the Classroom. Waxmann Verlag. Jewitt, C. (2012). An introduction to using Video for Research. NCRM Working Paper (unpublished). National Centre for Research Methods. Retrieved from:http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/2259/ Klette, K. (2009). Challenges in Strategies for Complexity Reduction in Video Studies.Experiences from the PISA + Study: A Video Study of Teaching and Learning in Norway, In Tomas Janik & Tina Seidel (ed.), The Power of Video Studies in Investigating Teaching and Learning in the Classroom. Waxmann Verlag. Lee, Y. & Kinzie, M.B. (2011). Teacher question and student response with regard tocognition and language use, Instructional Science, Vol. 40, pp. 857-874 Myhill, D.(2006). Talk, talk, talk, Teaching and learning in whole class discourse. Researchpapers in Education, Vol. 21 (1) pp. 19-41. doi:10.1080/02671520500445425 Nystrand, M., Gamoran, A., Kachur, R., & Prendergast, C. (1997). Opening Dialogue. Understanding the Dynamics of Language and Learning in the English Classroom. New York:Teacher College Press. OECD (2018). PISA 2018. Reading Literacy Framework. Retrieved from:https://www.oecd.org/pisa/data/PISA-2018-draft-frameworks.pdf Wu, K. (1993). Classroom Interaction and Teacher Questions Revisited, RELC Journal, Vol. 24, pp. 48-68
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