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The use of questions in primary science: a collaborative action research study

The use of questions in primary science: a collaborative action research study
The use of questions in primary science: a collaborative action research study
Science education research and policy highlight the importance of children being able to ask questions and engage in discussions in order to develop their conceptual understanding (Ofsted, 2013; Kim and Tan, 2011; Scott and Mortimer, 2003). However, ‘teacher talk’ and tightly controlled questioning sequences often dominates classroom exchanges and does little to develop children’s understanding of concepts(Yip, 2004). To challenge this practice, there is a need to understand the variables that support or prevent teachers from reflecting upon and changing their practices. This research, therefore, focuses on qualitative case studies to explore how two primary school teachers engaged in a collaborative action research project designed to advance questioning skills. Using periodic video recordings of lessons and interviews I examine the variables that contributed to a modification in questioning skills over the duration of two academic terms. The teachers chose different teaching approaches to achieve this: puppets or Thinking Cubes.

Analysis of the data revealed that changing practice is complex. The choices teachers make when delivering science lessons are dependent upon an amalgam of variables such as level of subject knowledge, subject specific pedagogy, and the curriculum aims, as well as personal attributes and contextual issues relating to the school. However, the choice of teaching approach is important and may enable a teacher to modify their practice within a shorter time frame than expected. Previous research identified that change often takes more than a year (Postholme, 2012; Loughran, 2002). However, the teacher who used a puppet was able to plan his questioning sequences and the structure of his lessons strategically so that children actively problem-solved and raised questions. The implications of the study suggest that to support teacher development, there is a need to understand the individual biography of each teacher so that support can be personalised as well as supporting them to use a teaching approach that develops problem-solving and discussion.

Wilkinson, Deborah
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Wilkinson, Deborah
b5d3735b-2ba6-46eb-8b8d-a8b97012a4ab
Christodoulou, Antri
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Grace, Marcus
bb019e62-4134-4f74-9e2c-d235a6f89b97

Wilkinson, Deborah (2016) The use of questions in primary science: a collaborative action research study. University of Southampton, School of Education, Doctoral Thesis, 239pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Science education research and policy highlight the importance of children being able to ask questions and engage in discussions in order to develop their conceptual understanding (Ofsted, 2013; Kim and Tan, 2011; Scott and Mortimer, 2003). However, ‘teacher talk’ and tightly controlled questioning sequences often dominates classroom exchanges and does little to develop children’s understanding of concepts(Yip, 2004). To challenge this practice, there is a need to understand the variables that support or prevent teachers from reflecting upon and changing their practices. This research, therefore, focuses on qualitative case studies to explore how two primary school teachers engaged in a collaborative action research project designed to advance questioning skills. Using periodic video recordings of lessons and interviews I examine the variables that contributed to a modification in questioning skills over the duration of two academic terms. The teachers chose different teaching approaches to achieve this: puppets or Thinking Cubes.

Analysis of the data revealed that changing practice is complex. The choices teachers make when delivering science lessons are dependent upon an amalgam of variables such as level of subject knowledge, subject specific pedagogy, and the curriculum aims, as well as personal attributes and contextual issues relating to the school. However, the choice of teaching approach is important and may enable a teacher to modify their practice within a shorter time frame than expected. Previous research identified that change often takes more than a year (Postholme, 2012; Loughran, 2002). However, the teacher who used a puppet was able to plan his questioning sequences and the structure of his lessons strategically so that children actively problem-solved and raised questions. The implications of the study suggest that to support teacher development, there is a need to understand the individual biography of each teacher so that support can be personalised as well as supporting them to use a teaching approach that develops problem-solving and discussion.

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More information

Published date: May 2016
Organisations: University of Southampton, Southampton Education School

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 403920
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/403920
PURE UUID: a63a1b9a-eb98-476c-b0fb-7e83338c8ff5
ORCID for Antri Christodoulou: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-7021-4210

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 16 Dec 2016 15:11
Last modified: 29 Jun 2019 00:31

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Contributors

Thesis advisor: Antri Christodoulou ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Marcus Grace

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