Teachers' Use of Low-Level and Rhetorical Questions as Interactional Scaffolding in Informational Read Alouds
Rozas, Elizabeth Hale
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CitationRozas, Elizabeth Hale. 2018. Teachers' Use of Low-Level and Rhetorical Questions as Interactional Scaffolding in Informational Read Alouds. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractTeachers’ questions in informational read alouds create opportunities for young students to engage in meaningful discussions with complex texts. While research has established high-level questions as important scaffolding mechanisms in read alouds, there have been few studies that examine how low-level and rhetorical questions might also contribute to student learning and engagement. The purpose of this mixed-method study was to examine the spontaneous questions teachers asked in the context of a script-supported informational read aloud, with an in-depth focus on how low-level and rhetorical questions provide different types and levels of scaffolding for student learning and engagement.
Transcript data comes from a predetermined subsample of 34 third-grade teachers that was part of a large-scale longitudinal intervention study designed to enhance student engagement with reading during the summer months. I used discourse and content analysis to determine 14 categories that reflect specific scaffolding functions of teachers’ questions. I used correlational analysis to examine associations between the types of low-level questions teachers asked and frequency of spontaneous high-level questions as well as amount of student talk. Results reveal that low-level and rhetorical questions serve a variety of scaffolding functions for content learning, critical thinking, and motivation. There was also a strong correlation between the numbers of spontaneous low- and high-level questions teachers asked (r=0.54, p<0.005) and moderately strong associations between two of types of low-level questions and resulting student talk. While the predominance of low-level questioning patterns continues to be a challenge in many elementary classrooms, findings from this study suggest some low-level and rhetorical questions play important, complementary functions in text discussions, particularly with informational text. As such, this study presents a detailed taxonomy for viewing the multiple ways low-level and rhetorical questions can contribute to engaged content learning and critical thinking in informational read alouds.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:37935846