Engaging learners through questioning and feedback
The study in context This study looked at how interactive classrooms operate and the strategies teachers employ to support students shared and individual learning e.g. through the use of reasoning skills, exploration and discussion. This study looked at how interactive classrooms operate and the strategies teachers employ to support students shared and individual learning e.g. through the use of reasoning skills, exploration and discussion.
Feedback strategies teachers used to create interactive classrooms In literacy and numeracy lessons teachers built on students responses encouraged students to feedback to each other used students input to shape lessons
Techniques for building on students responses to establish dialogue Teachers used prompts such as oh, ooh, ah, gave opinions and drew on personal experiences, e.g. Student: Ehm, its a guitar with laser stringsits for teenagers that actually know how to play the guitar Teacher: Ah, now I have to say I think thats going to appeal to people who play guitar. I know my sister plays the guitar, it drives her mad every time the strings break
Encouraging students to feedback to each other Teachers invited students to respond to each others answers for example: - Teacher: Ok ready three, two, one, show me, brilliant, [students name] read it out for me please. - Student: Fourfour hundred and twenty thousand. - Teacher: [student] thinks shes got four hundred and twenty thousand, anybody want to disagree?
Drawing on students input to shape lessons Teachers actively engaged students in developing the lesson for example - Student: You could rotate it [a shape] and then that would fit. - Teacher: Ooh rotate it then - Student: Ok, ehm right [laughs]... pause as student tries to draw rotated shape - Teacher: It is a bit tricky isnt it? Can you on the whiteboards in front of you try and rotate the shape? [teacher opens the task to the whole class]
How did teachers use open questions to stimulate discussion? Teachers used open questions which invited multiple answers and encouraged students to discuss and negotiate a final answer for example Teacher: Ok what things are important in instructions? If we were going to write a checklist for when I do this with my class next year, what things would you say to them? What would have to be in your instructions?
How did teachers use closed questions to stimulate interaction? Effective teachers used closed questions to build on students thinking and draw in others responses, e.g. the teacher is explaining that multiplying by 100 is the same as multiplying by 10 and then 10 again, a student asked the following commented: - Student: You know when you times it by 20, you do two 10s. - Teacher: No, think carefully its not two 10s is it, its 1 times 10 and then you? - Student: Double it. - Teacher: Do you see where you went wrong there?
Who were the students in the study? The researchers observed and analysed teacher- student interaction in 213 primary literacy and numeracy lessons (114 Year 5 literacy and numeracy lessons in 2003, and 99 Year 5 and 6 lessons in 2004)
How was the information gathered? The researchers observed and analysed classroom interactions over a two year period They used hand held computers and video to record lessons They selected five literacy and five numeracy lessons that showed the most interaction to investigate teacher behaviours in more detail
How can teachers use this evidence? The study found that teachers played a key part in creating and maintaining effective discussion. You could reflect on how you use dialogue in your lessons. Can you think of a lesson where your students had a good discussion and learning took place? What role did you play in helping those discussions? Are there any particular effective strategies you used that you would use again?
How can school leaders use this evidence? The study found that some teachers were effective in stimulating discussion in their classrooms and others less so. How effective are staff in your school in exploiting the potential of interactive teaching and learning? Do you have staff members who are effective promoters of classroom dialogue? Could you engage them in coaching other staff who are trying to develop in this area?
Follow-up reading Study reference: Smith, H. & Higgins, S. Opening classroom interaction: the importance of feedback (2006) Cambridge Journal of Education Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 485- 502 The TLAs Research for Teachers (RfT) website presents a number of research summaries that cover relevant fields of interest such as dialogue and AfL. The RfTs can be found at: http://www.tla.ac.uk/site/Pages/RfT.aspx http://www.tla.ac.uk/site/Pages/RfT.aspx