Blended Teacher Supports for Promoting Open-ended Questioning in Pre-K Sscience Activities

Lee, Youngju, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Kinzie, Marble, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Whitaker, Jessica, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Fan, Xitao, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Although open-ended questions are considered high-quality questions in that they stimulate students' thinking and encourage students to express their ideas, teachers do not use open-ended questions frequently as much as closed-ended questions. Moreover, despite the importance of questions in teachers' practices, many teachers are not necessarily aware of or analyze their use of questions in classrooms. This study provided teachers with blended questioning supports to enhance teachers' questioning skills in prekindergarten science activities. The effects of teacher supports were examined by two aspects: teachers' questioning behaviors and students' language use in their responses to teachers' questions. Twenty-five pre-k teachers and their students participated in the study and were assigned into two groups: the treatment group received blended teacher supports and the comparison group did not receive the supports. The data consist of classroom video observations, teacher surveys to measure teachers' ability to devise questions during their lesson plans, and teachers' access time to online teacher support resources. Data analyses identified four key findings. The treatment group teachers employed more open-ended questions than the control group teachers in conducting their science activities. In addition, the treatment group teachers increased the number of open-ended questions during their lesson planning than the control group teachers. The web-based questioning-specific supports were found to be the most influential predictor to teachers' enhancement of their open-ended questioning. The more time teachers utilized questioning-specific support resources on the website, the more open-ended questions teachers used. With regard to students' gains, students of teachers in the treatment group used a greater number of different words (lexical diversity) and complex sentences containing one clause (low subordination) than those in the control group. Furthermore, the web-based questioning-specific supports increased teachers' frequency of open-ended questions which, in turn, increased students' use of complex sentences in their responses to teachers' questions. Based on these findings, I suggested implications for teachers who are interested in improving students' language during science instruction and teacher educators who provide teachers with trainings to enhance their questioning practices.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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