Academic journal article Education

Effects of Expectation of Questioning Method on Education Majors' Preparation for Class

Academic journal article Education

Effects of Expectation of Questioning Method on Education Majors' Preparation for Class

Article excerpt

Many college instructors request that their students complete assigned weekly readings prior to in-class lectures, discussions, and activities. This request presumes that educational outcomes are improved when students prepare themselves to engage actively in the learning process. Indeed, research findings indicate that educational benefits accrue when students complete readings prior to class. For example, Terpstra (1979) found that greater academic achievement was associated with students who were presented with written material before oral presentations when compared to the reverse order.

Some instructors rely upon, and often suffer through, the consequences of students' noncompletion of assigned readings prior to instruction-limited classroom participation and discussion, "cramming" for exams, poor exam performance, and failure to master course objectives. These instructors often use traditional oral questioning procedures during classes and select only those students who volunteer to provide answers. Other instructors actively attempt to promote students' consistent and punctual preparation by using traditional tactics such as frequent testing, unannounced written quizzes, and advanced organizers for major exams. Novel procedures also have been attempted. For example, Tuckman (1991) gave students an extra credit option of writing test items which addressed readings presented in subsequent lectures. This voluntary homework system enhanced students' preparation for class.

The study presented here was designed to investigate how education majors' expectation of their instructor's in-class questioning method affects their preparation for class. While many college students expect to provide answers during class on a voluntary basis, some instructors use an alternative questioning method, random oral questioning, for which students expect that their instructor will call upon them to provide answers at random - that is, nonvoluntarily. Although random oral questioning is used effectively in many law schools and some other college programs, most teacher education faculty utilize voluntary oral questioning. The application of effective instructional practices from highly respected training programs, such as law, to teacher education programs seems warranted given concerns about the quality of undergraduate instruction and public demands for accountability and rigor in college programs (Greenberg, 1993).

Research findings provide support for both the expectation and use of random oral questioning. For example, the effective teaching literature demonstrates that asking questions at random during instructional periods increases the amount of time students are engaged actively in academic tasks and reduces off-task behaviors (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1987). Using random patterns to call upon students also facilitates high levels of attention and maintains students' involvement in the cognitive demands of the lesson (Hohn, 1986). In addition, rapid questioning from student to student encourages participation and increases students' confidence in their abilities to respond (Christensen, 1989). Finally, recent studies indicate that the expectation of random oral questioning promotes preparation for classes among community college students (McDougall & Cordeiro, 1993) and undergraduate business, nursing, and social science majors (McDougall & Granby, in review).

Behavioral and cognitive principles provide further support for using random oral questioning. Behaviorally, random oral questioning conforms to a variable schedule of reinforcement which produces consistent and relatively high rates of behavior (Alberto & Troutman, 1990). Conversely, traditional voluntary oral questioning conforms to a relatively fixed schedule of reinforcement and results in predictable behavior patterns. That is, students who volunteer to answer the instructor's questions tend to be called on frequently, while students who fail to volunteer are not called on and do not provide answers. …

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