'I wonder what you know...': Teachers designing requests for factual information

Houen, Sandy (2014) 'I wonder what you know...': Teachers designing requests for factual information. In Baguley, Margaret (Ed.) AARE Conference Proceedings, Australian Association for Research in Education, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.

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The early years are significant in optimising children’s educational, emotional and social outcomes and have become a major international policy priority. Within Australia, policy levers have prioritised early childhood education, with a focus on program quality, as it is associated with lifelong success. Longitudinal studies have found that high quality teacher-child interactions are an essential element of high quality programs, and teacher questioning is one aspect of teacher-child interactions that has been attributed to affecting the quality of education, linking open ended questioning to higher cognitive achievement. Teachers, however, overwhelmingly ask more closed than open questions. In the classroom, like everyday interaction, questions in interaction require answers. They are used to request, offer, repair, challenge, seek agreement (Curl & Drew, 2008; Enfield, Stivers, & Levinson, 2010; Hayano, 2013; Schegloff, 2007). Teachers use questions to set agendas and manage lessons (McHoul, 1978; Mehan, 1979; Sacks, 1995), and to gauge students’ knowledge and understanding (Lerner, 1995; McHoul, 1978; Mehan, 1979).

Drawing on data from the Australian Research Council project Interacting with Knowledge: Interacting with people: Web searching in early childhood, this paper focuses on an extended sequence of talk between a teacher with two students aged between 3.5 and 5 years in a preschool classroom. The episode, drawn from a corpus of over 200 hours of video recorded data, captures how the teacher and children undertake an online search for images of lady beetles and hairy caterpillars on the Web. Ethnomethodological and conversation analysis approaches examine how the teacher asks questions, which call on the children to display their factual knowledge about the search topic. The fine grained analysis shows how teachers design their interactions to prompt children’s displays of factual knowledge, and how the design of factual questions affect a student’s response in terms of what and how they respond. In focussing on how the teacher designs factual questions and how children respond to these questions it shows that question design can close down a student’s reply; or elicit a range of answers, from one word to extended more detailed responses. Understanding how the design of teachers’ questions can influence students’ responses has pedagogic implications and may support educators to make intentional decisions regarding their own questioning techniques.

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ID Code: 82880
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1324-9320
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 AARE
Deposited On: 30 Mar 2015 02:10
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2015 21:46

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