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RUNNING HEAD: ASKING QUESTIONS AND PROBING INCORRECT ANSWERS

Asking Questions and Probing Incorrect Answers Dianne J.E.Kraus Wilkes University

ASKING QUESTIONS AND PROBING INCORRECT ANSWERS Abstract In this mini-study there were 27 students of diverse backgrounds who were enrolled in an Honors Biology class. The students were designing an experiment to test their hypothesis on how antacids affect acid-base balance. The students were arranged in groups of four to five. The teacher is asking questions and probing incorrect answers of all students at an equal rate and the same level of complexity to ensure that the students have designed a controlled experiment, with safety precautions and a procedure that will enable them to collect data for the following learning goal: The students will be able to generate and test a hypothesis that demonstrates an understanding of acid-base balance in the human body.

ASKING QUESTIONS AND PROBING INCORRECT ANSWERS Asking Questions and Probing Incorrect Answers In this video analysis the teacher is focusing on asking questions and probing incorrect answers. The students are an Honors Biology class with twenty-seven students of mixed diversity. The students have designed a lab to test which antacid is the most effective and to see if homeostasis will maintain the desired range of acidity for the stomach. The teacher was meeting with each group to determine if the experimental design was testable, that safety measures were adhered to and to ensure that the students planned a controlled study. The

learning goal for this lesson was that students will be able to generate and test a hypothesis that demonstrates an understanding of acid-base balance in the human body. (see Appendix) During the lesson the teacher met her goal for the lesson by meeting with each group and asking questions of each student. The teacher was careful to ask questions at the same rate with the exception of the last group. She missed elaborating on an answer regarding the prediction of the final acid-base balance after adding the antacids. Although the student was a high expectancy student the teacher should have asked her to elaborate on the answer in order to probe deeper for understanding. Other than this exception all students were asked complex questions. The teacher gave the students an opportunity to collect their thoughts and then she returned to them. This was witnessed when a student struggled with the safety precautions and then with the control group set-up. After other students answered questions the teacher returned to the student who then provided the correct answer and was given positive affirmation by the teacher. All students were asked to explain their answers and the teacher differentiated questions to the level of mental processing that each student was working at within the group. One

ASKING QUESTIONS AND PROBING INCORRECT ANSWERS student was at a level 1.0 on the scale for the learning goal but with help was able to answer the questions. When the students struggled to set up the control group the teacher reframed the questions and broke the concept down into smaller parts so that the students could analyze the relationship between the control group and the experimental groups. Once the students revisited the relationships and the purpose of manipulating the independent variable then they were able to identify their incorrect answer for the control group. The teacher also gave all low expectancy students an opportunity to answer questions at the same level of complexity. She asked one student to rethink their understanding of the control group and promised to return to have him explain the lab design in more detail. If asked the students would say that the teacher wont let you off the hook as this was evidenced by a low expectancy student who exclaimed, I always have to go first. The students were all able to answer the questions correctly and they all had a clear understanding of the lab because they were successful at completing the lab procedure which included observing safety procedures and collecting the necessary data to complete the experimental analysis. All of the students completed a controlled study to test their hypothesis. The effect of asking questions and probing incorrect answers required the students to think more deeply about the concepts and to have them make connections between the variables in the experimental design. Instead of passively conducting a textbook experiment the students needed to work collaboratively to design the experiment. The teacher had them correct any misconceptions and clarified understanding by asking probing questions so that

they could come to the answers on their own. This method ensures that all students understand

ASKING QUESTIONS AND PROBING INCORRECT ANSWERS the concepts and the experimental design. There was also a good moment when a student asked her peer to clarify his answer and to explain it further.

The teacher is innovating in asking all of the students in the classroom questions and it is impossible to identify the low expectancy students based on the behaviors exhibited by the teacher as she probes incorrect answers in the same manner as she does with high expectancy students. The classroom set-up and the group interaction also ensures that all students are asked questions at the same rate and at a complexity that is at the appropriate level of mental processing based on tracking of student progress for the learning goal. Based on the videotape of the mini-study I am much more aware of the need to ask all students questions but I find that I might be overcompensating, and I do not want to give preferential differentiated treatment to the low expectancy students. I need to make sure that all students are valued and respected. I also need to practice interrogative elaboration so that I always have the students justify their explanations and to make predictions about their learning. Probing questions engages the students and not only do the students learn in-depth but the questions also provide instructional feedback as a formative assessment so that misconceptions and errors in thinking can be addressed on the spot. The next step would be to work on essential questions for each unit that act as a framework within our professional learning community so that every teacher is holding all of their students accountable to the same level of deep critical thinking. I plan to share the information and the survey for

identifying low expectancy students with my colleagues so that we can work together to practice developing higher order questions and to provide each other feedback through observation of each others classrooms.

ASKING QUESTIONS AND PROBING INCORRECT ANSWERS Appendix

Score 4.0

Students will investigate the relationship between homeostasis and the rebound effect of taking antacids to reduce stomach acidity In addition to score 3.0 performance partial success at score 4.0 content The students will be able to generate and test a hypothesis that demonstrates an understanding of acid-base balance in the human body. No major errors or omissions regarding score 2.0 content and partial success at score 3.0 content. The students will make generalizations about acids,bases and homeostasis in living systems. Partial success at score 2.0 content, but major errors or omissions regarding score 3.0 content With help, partial success of score 2.0 content, but not at score 3.0 content Even with help, no success

Score 3.5

Score 3.0

Score 2.5

Score 2.0

Score 1.5

Score 1.0

Score 0.0

ASKING QUESTIONS AND PROBING INCORRECT ANSWERS References Marzano, R. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.