One of the most important components of successful science teaching is the use of effective questioning (Clough, 2007). Abraham and Schlitt (1973) argue that, “Teaching requires continuous analysis of both student and teacher behaviors and subsequent modificationof classroom performance. ” They also say teachers must be their own critics if continuous analysis is to occur (Abraham & Schlitt, 1973). The topic that I chose to focus on analyzing are the interactions, such as questioning and responding, that take place between teachers and their students.
Given the topic, this final video analysis project will focus on answering the question, “What types of interactions are taking place in the classroom? ” One way to improve teacher interactions and behaviors is through deep reflection on one’s own practice through action research (Capobianco et al. 2004). I chose to research this topic because it is important for me to better understand whether I am effectively asking questions that guide students to the desired outcomes or merely lecturing.
Through this research, I hope to discover who is doing most of the talking in the classroom and whether I am doing most of the thinking for them or if I am pushing them to think more deeply about the subject so that they can make their own connections. I also want to see what types of questions I am asking my students and whether the majority of them are simple answer questions or if they require my students to think critically and make connections to prior knowledge before answering a question I have posed.
Finally, I would like to know whether, after asking a question, I give my students enough time to think about their answers and whether I give them the answer directly or if I help my students to find their own answers. Researching this question will have a significant impact on my teaching by helping me to quantify what types of teaching strategies I use and which ones I could use more frequently. The analysis for this paper will be of a two day lesson that I taught to a 9th grade integrated science class on the subject of natural selection.
Questioning has become an integral part of the science classroom. Inquiry teaching, a relatively new paradigm in teaching has shifted from the non-interactive/authoritative style of lecture-based teaching to the use of the questions and student responses to explore students’ views on science (Chin, 2006). “Unlike teacher questioning in traditional lessons where the purpose is to evaluate what students know, the nature of questioning in constructivist-based or inquiry-oriented lessons is different. In such lessons, the teacher’s intent is to elicit what students think, to encourage them to elaborate on their previous answers and ideas, and to help students construct conceptual knowledge. (Chin, 2006 pp. 1319)
These types of questions are used to extend students’ ideas and scaffold their thinking into higher-order thinking (Chin, 2006). Some studies have shown that when students are allowed to struggle with a question and construct their own hypotheses as to why phenomena occur, they learn the desired concepts better because they are engaged in the material (Fay & Bretz, 2008). There have been several studies by many different authors that argue for the use of more broad questions in the classroom as opposed to more focused questions that are usually used.
Traditionally, focused questions have been used to determine if the student can recall specific facts that they were told (Manouchehri & Lapp, 2003). A quote from Manouchehri and Lapp (2003) best explains their position on how questioning should be used in the classroom and provides insights into types of questions and the role questioning plays in learning. “Traditionally, questions have been used to determine what has been learned – too often as isolated bits of knowledge. Building procedural skills is no longer the sole purpose of mathematics instruction.
Teachers should include questions that are directed toward evaluating students’ thinking. The teacher’s questions must give learners an opportunity to communicate their reasoning process. These types of questions allow the teacher to gather detailed data on how students think and what they actually learn from instruction. ” (Manouchehri & Lapp, 2003 pp. 564) There are many other authors such as Chin (2006), Herman (2008), Karusi (2009), and Bell that would tend to agree with Manouchehri and Lapps’ position. Arguments for more broad vs. ocused style questions have become more prevalent in recent times due to the need for reforms in the way today’s students are taught.
In his article, Herman says that teachers have difficulty using effective questions in their teaching because of the way they were taught, where, “Factual questioning strategies are the norm. ” (Herman, 2008 pp. 12) In The Art of Questioning, Bell provides the reader with questioning strategies he implemented in his own classroom after receiving meager feedback from his students when using a traditional questioning method (Bell pp. ). Krusi experimented with revoicing (a technique used to restate students’ responses) her students’ statements and found that by the end of the year, “The students’ turn lengths, participation, and involvement increased and the students attempted to explain so that others could understand. ” (Krusi, 2009 pp. 132)
The research presented in Herman’s article seems to confirm what other authors have said about questioning. “The way teacher questions are worded does make a difference in student response. ” (Herman, 2008 pp. 6) Herman (2008) found that teachers were more likely to elicit extended answers through the use of more open-ended questions. After reading these articles, I was convinced that I needed to improve my own questioning skills, which lead me to use the SATIC model for a self-evaluation of my use of questioning in the classroom. The tool that I will use to help answer this question is the SATIC (Student and Teacher Interaction Coding) (Abraham & Schlitt, 1973) which is a tool that was developed for monitoring certain teacher behaviors.
In order to better understand how the SATIC works and interpret the results, Abraham and Schlitt (1973) explain the use of the SATIC instrument; its history, uses, and implementation, along with a coding sheet to help the user analyze the data they have collected. I will use the SATIC to analyze a 15 minute of a section of the lesson and the coding sheet to quantify teaching behaviors and types of responses so that I can quantify how many times I used each type of interaction or behavior as opposed to another.
In order to perform my analysis, I will use data collected from student work and video evidence that was recorded during my lesson for later reference. The video evidence will come from the second day of the two part lesson that I taught to a high school integrated science class on the topic of natural selection. The student data will help in my analysis by providing feedback on whether the students met the objectives of the lesson and whether what they learned was a direct result of behaviors and strategies that I used throughout the lesson.
Video evidence will also help my analysis by providing a way that I can go back to observe and classify what types of interactions there were between me and my students. The video evidence will also provide me with the information I need to complete the coding sheet for SATIC analysis. To analyze the student/teacher interactions during my lesson, I watched a fifteen minute recorded section of my lesson and used it to help me complete the SATIC coding sheet by Abraham and Schlitt (1973) and modified by Clough (1996).
The section of lesson analyzed begins about 26 minutes into the lesson and ends at 41 minutes and encompasses a discussion between myself, my partner, and our students about types of adaptions of animals that they are shown and the reasons why that animal might have developed them. A copy of the completed coding sheet can be found in Appendix A. After the video evidence was reviewed and the coding sheet analyzed, the total number of tallies for teacher initiatory (lines 1-4) interactions were added together and divided by the total number of teacher responding (lines 5-12) interaction tallies to give an interaction index.
This index is a measure of students’ participation as well as teaching behavior (“What is satic? ” 2005). The interaction index I obtained from this lesson was given by the equation, Interaction Index = Responding (R)Initiatory (I) = 3334 = 0. 97. According to Abraham and Schlitt (1973), if the interaction index is low ~0. 50 it indicates that the teacher initiates about twice as much as they respond. A low interaction index is also indicative of a teacher dominated classroom, (Abraham & Schlitt, 1973) which is not a hallmark of inquiry teaching (Fay & Bretz, 2008).
According to Abraham and Schlitt (1973), an ideal interaction index should be close to 1. 0 or higher. The final tally of initiatory and response interactions indicated that there was a 34:33 or ~50% ratio of initiation of discussion to response to student answers from the teacher, respectively. During the initiatory parts of the lesson, 44% of the time was spent talking. According to the SATIC, talking is defined as time that the teacher spends lecturing, giving directions, making statements, and asking rhetorical questions.
An estimated 66% of this time was spent lecturing and giving lengthy directions which was calculated by giving a tally for every 15 continuous seconds of lecturing in which the students were not participating in discussion. The remaining 34% of initiating interaction was spent by the teacher making statements such as giving short sets of directions or asking rhetorical questions that the students were not expected to answer. An example from my lesson that shows this type of interaction is when I am giving directions on what the students should be talking about within their discussion groups.
Conversely, 56% of the initiatory parts of the lesson was spent asking questions to students. The SATIC defines questioning as asking yes or no questions, short-answer questions, thought provoking short-answer questions, and extended-answer questions. The coding sheet shows that 42% of the initiating questions were short-answer and yes/no type questions. For example, a yes/no type question in my lesson is one where I asked whether there was an adaptation present after showing the students a picture of Darwin’s finches.
The remaining 58% of the initiating questions portion was spent asking thought provoking questions which required a thoughtful response of a few words for a short-answer or interpretation, explanation, or synthesis of a phenomena for a long-answer. A short-answer question of this type asked students to speculate what the animal’s adaption was; while a long-answer question asked students to synthesize what they thought the animal’s adaptation was useful for and why. The responding interactions composed the remaining interactions that took place during the section of video that I used for this analysis.
There was one instance where I rejected a student comment and cut him off before he was through explaining his answer. All students should be given an equal opportunity to express their thoughts, whether they are right or wrong (Chin, 2006), and I believe that I made a mistake when I interrupted this student. I was disappointed to see this is a type of interaction from myself since it does not coincide with my teaching philosophies. The majority of responses that were given to the students, roughly 45%, were ones that accepted the students answer with a response such as “okay” or “all right”.
I would like to see less of these types of responses since they fail to evaluate the response that the student has given (Abraham & Schlitt, 1973). Another similar type of response is one that confirms the student’s answer with a response like “that’ right” or “good job”. Although a response such as this may be more positive than a simple “okay”, it fails to evaluate the student’s answer and the student does not receive any constructive feedback with this type of response. This response type occurred only twice during my lesson.
The second-largest type of response was one where the student’s comment was repeated. By repeating the comment, the teacher indicates that they heard the student’s response, allows other students to hear the response, and enables the student to listen to what they said (Krusi, 2009). After hearing their response, the student may confirm what they meant to say while other students are given the chance to respond to what their classmate has just said. This response occurred 24% of the time during responsive interactions.
Clarification and interpretation of a student’s response helps the teacher to understand whether they heard the student’s response correctly and can serve to clarify what the student has just said for the rest of the class (Abraham & Schlitt, 1973). This type of response occurred twice in my lesson. I would like to see myself using more of these types of responses since they offer constructive feedback to the student and encourages them to think more deeply about what they have just said (Chin, 2006). The next type of response is one where the teacher answers the student question.
I do not think that answering a student question outright is appropriate for an inquiry-based lesson and as a result, this type of response was not used by me or my partner. I believe that students should be allowed to struggle with an answer for a little while and reflect on the relating concepts before an answer is simply given to them. This type of behavior is not characteristic of inquiry learning since it does not encourage students to come up with their own solutions and only serves to help to student move on to the next question (Fay & Bretz, 2008).
Asking students to clarify or elaborate made up the final 15% of response interactions during my lesson. In these types of responses, students are asked to explain their ideas further or explain what is meant by their responses. I like that this type of response was used somewhat in my lesson and will strive to incorporate more of these responses into future lessons.
There are many types of interactions that take place between the teacher and their students. For the most part, I am pleased with interactions that occurred during the section of my lesson that was analyzed. It seemed that my partner and I had lots of quality questioning and responses that we gave to our students. In general, our students were able to gain constructive feedback and learned a lot by being pushed to think more deeply about the underlying concepts of natural selection. As a result of the questioning strategies used, I believe that our students were better able to understand the driving forces of adaptions and their practical applications to the real world.
Courtney from Study Moose
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