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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