Malaysian Primary School ESL Teachers’ Questions during Assessment for Learning

Sedigheh Abbasnasab Sardareh, Mohd Rashid Mohd Saad


Classroom questioning is a crucial learning and instructional strategy. It has also been regarded as an important aspect of Assessment for Learning (AfL) by researchers. Classroom questioning helps students gain a better appreciation of what they are learning as well as how they are learning. It also helps teachers understand students’ learning progress. This qualitative case study is a part of a larger study on classroom questioning during AfL and it has to be reminded that only a part of the study is presented here which involves two ESL teachers (one teaching Year One and the other teaching Year Two class) and the types of questions they used during AfL. The current study was conducted in a selected primary school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. To collect data, ten periods of each teacher’s classroom were observed and then interview was conducted with each teacher. Observations and interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed for further analysis. The results of this study showed that the participating teachers were aware of the importance of questioning technique during AfL, however, they asked lower cognitive questions that did not trigger thoughtful reflection. The data also revealed that the teachers in this study formulated questions that at the first sight may seem to be open questions but they expected the students to provide a short-specific answer. Although questions were designed to suit the content of the lesson, it was observed that most of the questions asked by the teachers focused on content, structure and students’ background knowledge and elicited specific, predetermined answers. In short, Most of the questions asked by the teachers in their mixed ability classes were below the students’ Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and did not help the students promote their thinking skills.

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English Language Teaching       ISSN 1916-4742 (Print)   ISSN  1916-4750 (Online)

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