Reviewed by George Ladd
Professor of Science Education
How to...Ask The Right Questions is a monograph by noted researcher Pat Blosser which reviews the relevant research on classroom dialogue. While the work dates from 1987, the information is especially relevant today when our emphasis on authentic experiences and constructivist dialogue has prioritized this part of our instruction.
The work covers a range of topics including questioning and the value of silence (wait time). The publication also contains a bibliography and a excerpt from a actual classroom lesson involving third graders which illustrates wait time, varying question types, and encouraging student interaction. The teacher questions in the lesson are also classified according to type using a schema featured in the publication. Certainly research has shown the ability of students to think at higher cognitive levels can be traced directly to the level of classroom questioning they are involved in on a regular basis.
While there are many schemes for the classification of teachers' questions, those presented are useful and in a form that is practical for the user. The tone of the work is friendly and contains a number of suggestions for the reader. Certainly the suggestion of audio or video taping of classroom lessons brings back memories of interaction analysis methods of the 60s and 70s; however, this practice still is an effective tool in staff development activities of today. The work would be valuable to undergraduate or graduate students who are enrolled in a methods of teaching class and who could, during their pre- or full practicum experience, carry out at least audio recording of their questioning behavior. It would also be a good tool for administrative evaluations and for mentoring of new teachers.
Review posted on 1/19/2001