UNDERSTANDING HOW PRESERVICE TEACHERS USE FOCUSING QUESTIONING STRUCTURES: A MULTIPLE CASE STUDY
Nolan, Edward Charles
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The study explores how five secondary mathematics preservice teachers use questioning structures as they develop understanding of how to teach. Teacher questioning impacts the degree of student thinking during solving problems, specifically selecting focusing over funneling questioning structures (Herbel-Eisenmann & Breyfogle, 2005; Wood, 1998). Questioning structures are investigated as the participants plan a lesson, practice it to their peers, and then teach it to high school students. As these preservice teachers explore this lesson over most of a semester, a rich analysis of questioning is developed through planning, practicing, and teaching the lesson. Investigation includes how participants elicit and interpret student thinking and how their responses either focused on the thinking of students or funneled students to the thinking of teachers. The research questions of this study are: • Do preservice teachers use focus and funnel questioning structures as they elicit, interpret, and respond to student thinking and, if so, how do they use them? • In what ways does preservice teachers’ use of focus and funnel questioning structures change through the plan-practice-teach cycle? Data for the study include an initial peer rehearsal activity; draft and final lesson plans; reflections on experiences with planning, peers, and students; and transcripts of peer rehearsals and interviews with each participant at the end of the study. Analysis of the data explored the types of questions asked and questioning structures used, how the preservice teachers used questioning to privilege or minimize the role of student thinking, and how flexible the preservice teachers were in asking questions, be they planned or extemporaneous. While each of the participants stated the goal of creating student-centered learning environments, they varied widely in their ability to privilege student thinking. Some reasons for the differences in these abilities are explored. The study demonstrated four potential areas of future research in regard to teacher preparation: preservice teachers need help to learn about and use focusing questioning structures; opportunities may need to allow preservice teachers to address and overcome their current beliefs; preservice teachers need support to effectively elicit, interpret, and respond to student thinking; and peer practice needs specific structures to be effective.