Questioning in ECE

Still thinking about Science in ECE… and found an article that might be relevant, because it touches on one of the areas in which ECE practitioners could perhaps improve in terms of the foundations they provide (?)…

Iram Siraj-Blatchford and Laura Manni conclude: “Our study has shown that observations of the pedagogical approaches of pre-school practitioners, including their questioning techniques, can reveal potential strengths and weaknesses of varied approaches, which may in turn be used to inform better practice. This also has implications for the initial training of early years professionals. Although the Government has plans to train all early years staff to at least National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) level 3 (typically a two-year parttime course at a College of Further Education) we found that it was more often the graduate, trained teachers that were more likely to model a good range of both the closed and open-ended questions.

A number of studies have also been conducted over the years examining and comparing home and pre-school talk, which have highlighted a significant change in the child’s communicative role from one setting to the next. Looking at questioning in particular, Tizard and Hughes’s (1984) study found that children who were asking 50% of all the questions at home went on to ask fewer than 5% at school. This was attributed to the fact that children at home had far more access to an adult’s individual attention, not having to compete with numerous others. Wells (1986) observed that questions asked by children fell from 12.7% of all those asked at home to 4% at school. If we accept, as Isaacs (1930) asserted, that the ‘asker who is able to fumble, grope and act with unexpected or contrary experience, eventually comes gradually to be able to do more for himself in similar situations … to answer … his own questions’ (296), then we can perhaps see the importance of questioning in active learning.” (p.15)

ABSTRACT: “This study provides an extension of analysis concerned with adult questioning carried out in the Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY) study. The REPEY study drew on robust quantitative data provided by the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) project to identify the particular pedagogical strategies being applied by more effective pre-school settings to support the development of the skills, knowledge and attitudes that enable their children to make a good start at school. Following a line of investigation identified in the EPPE analysis, and supported by previous studies, REPEY included a preliminary analysis of the forms of questioning applied by early childhood practitioners. These findings were based on 1967 adult questions identified in a random sample of four half-day observations drawn from each of the 12 pre-school settings that were identified by EPPE as more ‘effective’. In this extension of the analysis a text search of the N-Vivo database identified a total of 5808 questions across the full 400 hours of observations of 28 staff that were recorded in 2000–2001. The aim of the research has been to provide a more thorough analysis of the forms of questioning applied, and to investigate the possibility that the use of openended forms of questioning might be particularly supportive in early childhood development. Surprisingly, it was found that 94.5%of all the questions asked by the early childhood staff were closed questions that required a recall of fact, experience or expected behaviour, decision between a limited selection of choices or no response at all. Only 5.5% were open-ended questions, which provided for increased encouragement (to speculate and trial and error) and/or potential for sustained, shared thinking/talking. This article provides an account of the analysis and the authors’ coding and rationale for the seven types of closed questions and four types of open-ended questions that are most commonly asked by early years staff.” (p.5)

Ref: Iram Siraj-Blatchford and Laura Manni (2008) ‘Would you like to tidy up now?’ An analysis of adult questioning in the English Foundation Stage Early Years Vol. 28, No. 1, March 2008, 5–22


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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