Title

Questioning practices in a lower secondary social studies classroom

Date of Award

8-1-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

Asking and answering of questions plays a key role in classroom teaching. Questioning, as a teaching strategy, has a potential to influence students' learning outcomes, especially in high-order thinking which is at the heart of Social Studies classroom practice. This study explored the questioning practices in a lower-secondary co-education social studies classroom in a private school in Karachi, Pakistan. This small-scale study was carried out over seven weeks and employed the qualitative method of data collection, including observations, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions. The study found that the classroom practice was revolving around the Initiation- Response-Feedback (IRF) pattern. Teacher's questions dominated the classroom interaction. The teacher asked more questions (181) than students (33). Furthermore, most of the teacher's questions (60%; 108) were low-order. She did ask some high-order (25%; 45) questions. However, she tend to respond to those questions herself. As far as students' questions were concerned, they asked more low-order (52%; 17) questions than high-order (12%; 4). Interestingly, girls asked more questions (17:81%) as compared to the boys (4:19%). While the girls related their active participation to their ‘hard work' and ‘eagerness' to learn, where as the boys found it difficult to participate, because they were less in number' as compared to girls. The study also highlighted some of the possibilities and challenges which influence classroom questioning: teacher's content knowledge and pedagogical skills, classroom environment, and some school factors (time constraints, examination system). It is evident from the findings that classroom questioning is a result of a complex interplay among factors related to teachers (e.g. content knowledge, pedagogical skill, classroom environment, etc) and school's factors (e.g. time constrain and learning for exam). This study provides insight into questioning practices of a Social Studies classroom, using qualitative methods and generating some quantitative information', along with in-depth qualitative data. The findings might prove useful to further the understanding of teaching and learning practices in the Social Studies classroom in the context of the professional development of Social Studies teachers. It also provides a foundation for further research.

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