Because of these problems, Kelvin modified his approach after a few years of teaching to include more asking of questions which students were invited to answer.
This turned the lecture on children’s play into something more like a series of explanations of key ideas, interrupted by asking students to express their beliefs, knowledge, or experience about children’s play.
Asking questions and inviting brief responses was reassuring because it gave indications of whether students were listening and understanding the material.
Questions served both to motivate students to listen and to assess how much and how well they knew the material.
In this regard Kelvin was using a form of communication that was and continues to be very popular with many teachers (Cazden, 2001).
But there were also new challenges and problems.
For one thing the topic of children’s play took longer to cover than before, since Kelvin now had to allow time for students to respond to questions. This fact forced him to leave out a few points that he used to include.
More serious, though, was his impression that students often did not listen to each other’s responses; they only listened carefully to Kelvin, the teacher. The interactions often become simply two-way exchanges between the teacher and one student at a time: Kelvin asked, one student responded, Kelvin acknowledged or (sometimes) evaluated. (Mehan, 1979; Richards, 2006). Some of the exchanges could in principle have happened just as easily without any classmates present.
In general students still had little control over the course of discussion. Kelvin wondered if he was controlling participation too much – in fact whether the question-and-answer strategy attempted the impossible task of controlling students’ very thought processes. By asking most of the questions himself and allowing students only brief responses, was Kelvin trying to insure that students thought about children’s play in the “right” way, his way? To give students more influence in discussion, it seemed that Kelvin would have to become less concerned about precisely what ideas about children’s play he covered.
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