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EDUC 4206 Professional Experience 4: Teacher as Inquirer

Professional Inquiry Project Proposal

Pre-service Teacher: Morgan Phillips ID no.: 110169880

Context (approx. 100 words)


Description of placement context. Include here only those details which are necessary to provide
the reader with an overview of your setting ie. size of school/class; socio-economic factors in the
community, nature of class(es), etc. Do not mention the name of your site.
The school I am at in in the northern suburbs that has a current student population of 324 students
with 13 full time equivalent teachers as well as specialist teachers and leadership. There is a wide
range of other cultural backgrounds amongst the school, such as, Laos, Chinese, Aboriginal,
African, Vietnamese, Croatian and Serbian cultures. There is also quite a range of complex family
structures and families that are not financially well with up to 39% of parents qualifying for school
cards. There is also a high rate of students with learning disabilities which provided the school a
0.9 for special education. The class I have is a mixed class of 6/7s and has a variety of learning
abilities and several students on NEP or ILPs.
Plan (approx. 1000 words)
Overall focus of your inquiry and related AITSL Standard.
Rationale: Why have you chosen the particular focus? This will be based on your “Pre-service
self review” against the national standards & knowledge of your context. Explain how you
went about deciding your focus.
How does the literature support your focus? Include at least four references– include a balance
of journal and book references if possible.
The focus of my inquiry surrounds the question, ‘How can I implement questioning to effectively
improve student engagement when teaching literacy writing?’ This inquiry focus meets the
professional standards of, (1.2) Understanding how students learn, (2.5) Using Literacy and
numeracy strategies, (3.3) Using teaching strategies, (3.5) Using effective classroom
communication, 4.1) Supporting student participation and (4.2) Managing classroom activities. I
will be developing an understanding of how students learn (1.2) throughout researching the use
of questioning in teaching and how that can help the promotion of student learning. This will also
allow me to learn more about my students and their individual needs as learners. I am meeting
standards (2.5) and (3.3) through the focus of my inquiry as I am investigating a teaching strategy
and its accuracy within my teaching to encourage student engagement in an area of literacy.
Through this professional inquiry project, I will also be developing upon my ability to effectively
communicate with my class (3.5) as questioning is an essential form of communicating. It can
draw upon student knowledge, create discussion, encourage listening and further engagement.
Investigating the use of questioning within teaching literacy writing and the effectiveness on it to
manage a lesson also connects to the standard (4.1) and (4.2) as I am reflecting upon the ability
of this strategy to promote student engagement in learning and in turn, their participation in
learning (Aitsl, 2018).

Focusing my inquiry project around questioning when teaching literacy was to increase my
competence within providing clear instructions, engaging students and encouraging student
participation. While reflecting upon the standards and providing examples of evidence for each I
realised my lack of specific evidence for standards (4.1) and (4.2). I then looked into how I could
meet these standards and came across the strategy of questioning. Once I began to look into
questioning, I realised how complex it was and discovered that I hadn’t been using it as effectively
as I could have. This is when I decided to see if I could improve my teaching practice through
using questioning effectively in supporting participation and engagement.

Within classroom settings, teacher questions are defined as instructional cues or stimuli that
communicate the content and elements to students that are to be learned as well what they are
to do and how they are to do it (Cotton, 2018). Questioning has been used in education for many
years and is an effective tool that teachers use as a guide for student thinking (Ramsey et al.,
2010). Teachers can use effective questioning to transform their teaching. Questions serve as a
teaching tool by which teachers manage and direct learning, test student understanding and
diagnose problem areas (Caram and Davis, 2012). Good questioning strategies are strongly
considered as a part of best teaching practice (Fusco, 2012). Questioning is one of the strongest
tools that can be implemented by teachers as it can teach students how to think (Arslan, 2006).

Teachers are responsible for creating a classroom culture that fosters motivation and engagement
and energises learning (Caram and Davis, 2012). Research strongly highlights a range of benefits
of questioning and suggests the importance of it on our teaching practice (Caram and Davis,
2012). Questioning addresses a range of essential functions in teaching as it can be used to
encourage students to learn, think and act independently (Ramsey et al., 2010). Using questioning
effectively encourages, student discovery of new interests and increases awareness about new
ideas, promotes deeper thinking and creates a safe climate for diverse thinkers in the classroom
(Fusco, 2012). However, it is important we not only ask questions as teachers but also prompt
students to ask questions as this is an equally valuable learning opportunity (Ramsey et al., 2010).

There is a variety of different types of questioning that teachers can use to further student
engagement. Some examples are probing questions (questions that go beyond a student’s initial
response), factual questions (ones that require students to repeat information), divergent
questions (ones that have no right or wrong answer but encourage exploration of possibilities),
higher order thinking questions (questions that involve students figuring out answers rather than
remembering them), affective questions (ones that reveal feelings) and structuring questions
(clarifying tasks or instructions) (Teaching at UNL, 2018). It is important as teachers that we do
not just ask questions to seek a specific answer to a question or finish student responses without
allowing them to elaborate as this discourages the act of discovery (Fusco, 2012).

There is a requirement of both lower level thinking (convergent questions) and higher order
thinking (divergent questions) within the classroom. There should also be an essence of probing
questions, listening to student responses, redirecting student responses to other students,
providing respectful feedback, and allowing for appropriate time after asking a question (Arslan,
2006). Low-level cognitive questions focus on factual information that can be memorised, whereas
high-level cognitive questions can be defined as questions that require high-order thinking and
reasoning skills. High-order thinking skills involve students not only to recall factual knowledge but
also use their knowledge to solve, analyse and evaluate. It is questions that involve high-order
thinking skills that reveal whether students actually understand a concept or task (Arslan, 2006).

Research expressed that there is an effective way to implement questioning. The way teachers
should approach questioning is referred to as, ‘the questioning cycle’ which involves, developing
thought probing questions relevant to learning, asking questions, allowing for wait time, listening
to student responses, assessing student responses, responding with another question and re-
planning based on the student response (Fusco, 2012). Through using the questioning cycle,
students are able to learn to respect and reflect on other people’s opinions and views and evaluate
their thoughts before responding. Question directed class discussion can allow students to modify
their responses and undergo critical elements of what we as teachers refer to as learning (Fusco,
2012). Implementing the questioning cycle allows for the stimulation of confident and creative
problem solving and can generate the necessary skills students need to become active citizens
who are able to develop and express ideas (Fusco, 2012).

This research was supportive of my interest in questioning and will form the basis of my action
research. It is clear that questioning is a strategy that (if effectively implemented) can transform a
student’s learning experience and potentially better my teaching practice. Through conducting this
action research, I hope to see dramatic changes within student engagement, participation and
understanding.
Action (approx. 100 words)
An exact description of what you are going to change in your practice/behaviour throughout your
placement.
An exact description of when you are going to collect data each week during your normal
teaching (identify times & a subject area)
I am going to adapt my instruction time to include a variety of questioning in hope of promoting
engagement with a class of 28 students. I will reflect on whether implementing the questioning
cycle and using a variety of questioning strategies encourages class discussion and promotes an
increase in engagement. I will use structural questions to ensure students understand the task,
probing questions to encourage further thought amongst students, higher order thinking questions
which will encourage students to seek their own answers and open-ended questions. Each week
I intend on collecting data during my class’ English lesson surrounding advertising on a Monday
between 12-12:40pm, Tuesday between 12-12:40pm and on a Wednesday between 12-12:40pm.
This will allow me to reflect on student engagement through the use of questioning over 3 separate
days.

Observation (approx. 400 words)


How will you collect data? Choose techniques most suited to your strategy and situation. Explain
your monitoring techniques. Why have you chosen the particular techniques? Include at least
one reference to action research literature.
How will you record your data? Your monitoring process should aim to include at least three
observation techniques to ensure triangulation. (ie. Questionnaire, Supervising Teacher
feedback, frequency chart etc). Include data collection proformas as an appendix.
I will collect data from students, my supervisor and myself. To reflect on whether my questioning
strategies were efficient in increasing student engagement and participation I will be gathering
data from 3 different angles. My data collection methods are through the use of student exit slips,
observation feedback from my supervising teacher and evaluations from myself. This will allow
me to view a variety of angles to better understand and assess the effectiveness of my questioning
strategies.

According to a book on action research, surveys can be an effective way to gather information. It
was also specified that open questions were the most effective way to gather informative data. As
one of my methods of data collection, I am going to gather data from students through ‘exit slips’.
These work as short surveys that students quickly and efficiently do after a lesson to reflect on
whether they enjoyed the lesson, learned anything and provides them the opportunity to notify the
teacher on anything they didn’t like in order for them to improve and create more meaningful
learning experiences. I feel I will gather accurate data on whether questioning is effective through
this method (McNiff and Whitehead, 2005).

As for my second method of data collection, while it is essential to assess students and their
learning, it is also essential in action research to assess your own learning and teaching practice.
It is said that, ‘The most powerful way of thinking of a teacher’s role is for teachers to see
themselves as evaluators of their effects on children’. Being a reflective teacher is an essential
part of practice to make improvements in an attempt to maximise student learning and
participation. This is why I am evaluating my own practice to compare against the views of
students through an evaluation sheet, which can be seen in appendix 3 (Killen, 2015). To gather
a third and final view of the effectiveness of the questioning strategies I will be using is through
the observations of my supervising teacher (Appendix 2). I am taking into consideration, the views
of a colleague to provide me with critical feedback and an alternative perspective on this practice.

Reflection (approx. 400 words)


What will you be looking for when you analyse your data?
How will you interpret your data (ie make sense of the patterns)?
Who else might be involved? How? Name your critical friend as at least one of the people who
will be involved
Explain how you will use your analysis to inform your practice in the following action stage (ie.
next data collection time).
Include at least one relevant reference about the importance of reflection.
While I am analysing my data, I will be looking for any information that reveals the effectiveness
of the questioning strategies I implemented as a part of my practice. Through my data collection
methods, I will be collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. I will analyse my quantitative
data through placing it into pie charts as well as a frequency table. The data I will be using pie
charts to represent are the closed questions which reflect yes and no answers and the one’s
including a measurable scale. To interpret and understand the qualitative data I will be looking
over the data responses, taking notes and looking for key words and repetition amongst the
feedback. I will then reflect on this and improve my practice based on the results. The analysis of
this data will inform and further develop my questioning practices.

Between the times I collect data, I will continuously reflect on results and make changes where
relevant. I will analyse all three methods of data collection at the end of each week to see if the
methods of data collection are successful in gathering feedback. If they are successful and provide
clear data on the success of the questioning strategies, I will continue to use them. If they aren’t,
then I will look at how I can change and adapt them to be more suitable to gathering data for my
action research. I will also take the results and feedback into consideration when planning my
questioning strategies for each session to improve on how I am engaging students within their
learning.

The other people involved in my action research are my supervising teacher who will be involved
through his contribution of feedback and observations as well as his support and perspective and
my critical friend Nakia Love who I will discuss my findings and reflect on data with. Nakia will also
provide feedback on my choices for data collection and the effectiveness on them and provide
another perspective. I will also work with the teacher next door This will provide an alternative
interpretation of the data and findings.

Reflection is vitally important for improving our teaching practice. Reflecting allows us as teachers
to make informed decisions within our teaching pedagogy and act deliberately and intentionally
rather than reactively and randomly. Reflection provides us an opportunity for professional growth
(Shandomo, 2010). This is why action research is vital to implement throughout our teaching
career in order to better ourselves.

References
Include all references (min. of 6) using the Harvard referencing system.

1. Aitsl. (2018). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. [online] Available at:
https://www.aitsl.edu.au/tools-resources/resource/australian-professional-standards-for-
teachers [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].
2. Arslan, M. (2006). THE ROLE OF QUESTIONING IN THE CLASSROOM. [online] pp.81-
103. Available at: http://dergipark.gov.tr/download/article-file/93057 [Accessed 27 Jul.
2018].
3. Caram, C. and Davis, P. (2012). Inviting Student Engagement with Questioning. Kappa
Delta Pi Record, [online] 42(1), pp.19-23. Available at:
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00228958.2005.10532080?needAccess=tru
e [Accessed 28 Jul. 2018].
4. Cotton, K. (2018). Classroom Questioning. [online] Available at:
http://www.learner.org/workshops/socialstudies/pdf/session6/6.ClassroomQuestioning.pdf
[Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].
5. Fusco, E. (2012). Effective Questioning Strategies in the Classroom: A Step-by-step
Approach to Engaged Thinking and Learning, K-8. Teachers Colleague Press.
6. Killen, R. (2015). Effective Teaching Strategies : Lessons from Research and Practice.
[ebook] Engage. Available at:
https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unisa/reader.action?ppg=119&docID=5215440&tm
=1521594477791 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2018].
7. McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. (2005). All you need to know about action research. [ebook]
Sage Publications Ltd. Available at:
https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unisa/reader.action?docID=326402&query=
[Accessed 30 Jul. 2018].
8. Ramsey, I., Gabbard, C., Clawson, K., Lee, L. and Henson, K. (2010). Questioning: An
Effective Teaching Method. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies,
Issues and Ideas, [online] 63(9), pp.420-422. Available at:
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00098655.1990.10114144?journalCode=vt
ch20 [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].
9. Shandomo, H. (2010). The Role of Critical Reflection in Teacher Education. School–
University Partnerships, [online] 4(1). Available at:
https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ915885.pdf [Accessed 2 Aug. 2018].
10. Teaching at UNL. (2018). Types of Teacher Questions. [online] Available at:
http://www.lamission.edu/devcom/ProbingQuestions.htm [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].
Appendix 1: Student Exit Cards

Exit Card

Did you feel like all the questions I asked, helped you to listen and engage? (Circle response)

Yes No

Were the questions I asked helpful in understanding the topic more?

Yes No

Did you feel you engaged in the class discussion?

Yes No

What was your favourite part of the lesson?

What was your least favourite part of the lesson?

What was one thing you learned?


Appendix 2: Supervising Teacher Feedback Sheet

Supervising Teacher Feedback

Did you feel the students were engaged throughout the lesson?

Students weren’t Students were engaged

What made you feel they were/weren’t?

Did you feel students were engaged when questions were being asked?

Students weren’t Students were engaged

What were some signs you observed that demonstrated this?

Is there a specific question or set of questioning that you felt was the most successful?

What improvements do you think could be made?


Appendix 3: Evaluation template

PIP Teacher evaluation:

Did you feel the lesson was successful?

Yes No

Why/why not?

Did you feel students were engaged through the use of questioning strategies?

Students weren’t Students were

What were the signs that showed the questioning strategies were/weren’t effective? (Provide
specific examples)

What types of questioning were used?

Structural questions Probing questions

Higher order thinking questions Open-ended questions

Which were the most successful?

Which were the least successful?

Did students appear to understand the task and engage with the work efficiently?

Yes No

What showed this?