Linking Evidence with Good Primary Practice

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Linking evidence with good practice in the Primary Classroom

To open question or not to open question that is the question?

According to the SPACE research, teachers should be asking open and person-centred questions to ‘encourage children to share their ideas’. (Harris 2005). This statement agrees with the QCA guidance that states, ‘Open-ended questions are important tools in developing vocabulary and in helping children think things through’ (QCA 2000, P.84). Springer and Keil, however, in their paper in 1991 seem to concur with Donaldson (1978) in saying that perhaps younger children would gain more by answering questions with choice as they may not have the literacy skills to completely understand what is being asked of them. Harris (2005) asks the question, ‘How can young children provide answers which truly represent their ideas if they do not fully understand the question?’

Reading through Harlen (2009, p145) It may be concluded that some of the best practice of scientific enquiry questioning for children of any age could be person-centred, productive questioning. If this was used alongside Bruner’s theories of scaffolding and Vygotsky’s theories of ZPD (Harris 2005) then as a teacher this should ensure that each child is developing in their scientific knowledge and understanding. This should also assist children in acquiring vital Personal Learning and Thinking Skills, which is not only useful in science but also in every aspect of learning.

When looking in detail at the transcripts, it is interesting to note how many questions are asked by the teachers, (37) and how many by the pupils, (1) in all 5 conversations. Where the pupils were merely being observed with no teacher interaction they seemed to develop and understanding of what was happening through social constructivism and also by relying on what they had witnessed the teacher do…...

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