Teacher thinking, questioning, think aloud, protocol analysis, science education


Effective teacher questioning during whole group instruction remains an important pedagogy in science education, especially the importance of helping novice teachers to guide student thinking using effective questions. This study examined how novice secondary science teachers’ understand the relationship between student thinking and teacher questioning. The sample was seven novice secondary science teachers’ enrolled in the University of Central Florida’s job embedded Resident Teacher Professional Preparation Program (RTP3 ). All participants received instruction and guided practice with the use of questions to elicit, probe, and challenge student ideas in the secondary science pedagogy class. Participants completed a questionnaire describing their teaching experience and science content knowledge. The primary data were think aloud interviews describing their thinking while observing two science instruction videos. Protocols, critical incident interviews, and field notes were transcribed and coded for analysis. Descriptive codes identified properly classified question types and the purpose or value of questions, student thinking, and student reaction to teacher questions. Pattern codes identified student engagement, feedback, wait time, and communication patterns. The think aloud used in this study provided insight into what the participants were thinking about the purposes of questions to elicit, probe, and challenge student ideas and gave insight into the decision process. Evidence from the protocol analysis provided insight about what the participants were thinking about the decisions made when attending to teacher questions and student thinking. All seven participants identified question types using language suggesting they understood the differences, but at a naïve level. Although participants used the iii correct language to show understanding of the question types, they had a fairly naïve understanding of the pedagogical purpose of the questions. This was especially true of the questions to elicit student ideas, but perhaps less true of the probing and challenging questions. The participants had more of a ritualistic understanding of the questions to elicit student ideas; they noticed them but perhaps did not have a deep understanding of this question type. Analyses of this study also revealed novice teachers learning is framed by the priorities of the public school system. All participants attended to teacher instruction, especially wait time and student engagement, while a few participants focused on feedback, praise, and higher- and lower-order questions. This study suggested school culture and the way teachers are now assessed may scaffold and support these teachers to have a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of questioning and student thinking than has previously been reported for novice/beginning teachers. While some aspects of school culture and assessment may be problematic- i.e. wait time, feedback, praise, higher-order questions, etc.-on the whole it seems to be leading them in the right direction.


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Graduation Date





Boote, David


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Science Education








Release Date

May 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance, Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic