How contingent questioning promotes extended student talk: A function of display questions

  • Boyd M
  • Rubin D
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Research on traditional classrooms paints a picture of teachers controlling talk pat- terns and of students producing minimal amounts of mainly procedural talk, recita- tion-type talk, or both. Often this bleak state of affairs is attributed to teachers’ overreliance on inauthentic display questions—questions that impose tight thematic control and therefore purportedly promote recitation rather than classroom dialogue. Contrary to this blanket indictment of display questions, however, a small number of previous studies have concluded that teacher display questions are not inherently inimical to engaged student talk. This study examined a small 4th- and 5th-grade English language learner classroom in which students were previously found to have produced a substantial number of socially engaged and structurally elaborated utter- ances.Anewanalysis of thematic episodes containing instances of extended student talk revealed that authenticity of teacher questions was not a necessary condition for triggering such student utterances. Indeed, text-based display questions that inquired about details of readings obviously known to the teacher elicited elaborated re- sponses. The distinguishing characteristic of teacher questions that elicited extended student talk was found to be their contingency on previous student utterances rather than whether they were open-ended or inquired about known information.

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  • Maureen Boyd

  • Don Rubin

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