Program Standard 2
2. Instruction – The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.
2.1 Element – Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques
2.1 Example of Proficient – Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality. Adequate time is provided for students to respond.
As traditional ways of thinking have diminished and new theories have taken their place, education in the United States has undergone a transformation. Although many traditional teaching techniques are still prevalent in American classrooms the general consensus concerning learning has shifted. No longer are teachers thought to be the sole proprietors of knowledge and students the passive vessels waiting to receive information. Instead it is believed that students are natural learners waiting to discover different concepts and that a teacher’s role is to encourage and aid students in the discovery of new information. Inquiry based models are now seen as an effective teaching style to engage students and inspire them to become lifelong learners. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) asserted, “If we build learning communities that draw students into inquiry into subject matter and help those students engage with it conceptually, they will master any subject” (p. 23). It is now seen as essential that teachers use questioning techniques to unlock the knowledge that students already obtain and then encourage them to build upon that information. Research has shown that in order for students to succeed they need to feel that they have self-efficacy and control over their own future and inquiry based teaching can provide that to them (Johnson, 2015, 28).
It is important for students to develop a sense of agency in order for them to realize their self-efficacy. Once students are aware of their own capabilities they will come to realize that they can achieve any goal they set out to accomplish. Leading students into inquiry through thoughtful questioning can help them achieve that realization. Johnson (2004) stated, “Teacher’s conversations with children help the children build the bridge between action and consequence that develop their sense of agency” (p. 29). In order for students to be engaged in learning it is important that teachers demonstrate to them that their ideas are important. One way to do that is to create a supportive environment where students are encouraged to express their opinions. If teachers ask questions that allow students to direct the conversation it is more likely that students will become engaged in the subject matter. This type of teaching allows students to ignite their imaginations and connect the content to their own personal experiences.
It also allows students to make connections between the content that they are learning and real world scenarios. Johnson (2004) believed “that the less compartmentalized we make children’s learning lives, the more likely they are to transfer their strategic problem-solving to other situations” (p. 44). One main goal of education is to prepare students for life after school and help them develop the skills to thrive throughout their lives. It is important that the skills learned in school are transferable to a multitude of different situations. Posing questions and allowing student to explore topics on their own can teach them how to learn instead of just what to learn which will help them as they get older. As demonstrated it is essential for educators to employ questioning as part of their teaching strategy. It creates learners who can think for themselves and who understand the process of developing new skills. When students are a part of an inquiry based environment they develop the agency to take learning into their own hands and the skills to do so efficiently.