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What Questions Do You Have? In Defense of General Questions: A Response to Croom


by Joanne K. Olson & Michael P. Clough — August 15, 2004

Barry Croom’s article titled, “Are There Any Questions?” raises important issues regarding the impact of particular teacher behaviors on students. His arguments, however, contain several flaws. First, Croom mistakenly demarcates effective and ineffective questions primarily in terms of whether or not they are directed to a particular student. Second, rather than setting important expectations for student behavior, helping students achieve those behaviors, and educating students on the importance of those expectations, Croom’s strategy to ask directed questions serves to mask undesirable student behaviors. Third, in emphasizing the role of questioning and wait-time to diagnose students’ thinking, Croom appears to downplay or miss the equally important role of these teacher behaviors in helping students build understanding. Finally, Croom’s contradictory and incomplete recommendations miss the significant positive synergy that results when multiple teacher behaviors are implemented together on a consistent basis. We address these issues and argue that the synergy resulting from effective questioning, positive non-verbals, careful listening, wait-time, and responding that further engages students is the central core of effective teaching. The importance of these behaviors is that they are the essential “tools” teachers always have at that their disposal for diagnosing students’ thinking and promoting student understanding.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 15, 2004
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11366, Date Accessed: 12/14/2017 3:52:56 PM

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About the Author
  • Joanne Olson
    Iowa State University
    E-mail Author
    Joanne Olson is an assistant professor in the Center for Excellence in Science & Mathematics Education at Iowa State University where she teaches elementary science methods, advanced pedagogy, and conducts research on science teacher preparation. A former elementary and middle school science teacher in South Central Los Angeles, she has received numerous awards for her teaching and research. Her research interests include elementary teachers’ classroom decision-making and implications of the nature of science for elementary science teaching.
  • Michael Clough
    Iowa State University
    E-mail Author
    Michael Clough is an assistant professor in the Center for Excellence in Science & Mathematics Education at Iowa State University where he teaches secondary science methods, the nature of science and science education, and supervises science student teachers. He is an award-winning teacher of high school biology and chemistry who taught in Illinois and Wisconsin, and he has been nationally recognized for his work in science teacher education. His numerous publications and presentations focus on effective science teaching practices and the nature of science and its implications for science teaching.
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