ESL Teachers’ Questioning Technique in an Assessment for Learning Context: Promising or Problematic?

  •  Sedigheh Sardareh    
  •  Mohd Saad    
  •  Abdul Othman    
  •  Rosalam Me    


As a crucial feature of assessment for learning (AfL), questioning technique plays an important part in student learning. In an AfL classroom, questioning technique is not merely a pedagogical tool to elicit evidence of students’ understanding but also a means to improve their understanding. Effective classroom questioning underpins AfL; However, research into AfL raises significant doubt about the efficiency of teachers’ questioning during AfL especially in Malaysian primary schools where AfL is still in its infancy. The current study illuminates the process of classroom questioning during AfL in a Malaysian primary school ESL context. This qualitative case study was conducted in a selected primary school around Selangor, Malaysia. Three ESL teachers teaching in the selected school took part in the study. In order to collect data, twenty periods of each teacher’s classroom were observed. Then, interview was conducted with each individual teacher. Interviews and observations were tape-recorded verbatim and transcribed for further analysis. The results indicated that the low-cognitive level of questioning techniques and strategies were utilized by the three teachers. Many findings of this study point to the fact that teachers are still practicing teacher-centered syllabus. The results of the current study showed that the traditional concept of questioning was maintained and classroom questioning did not seem to fulfill the promise of enhancing learner autonomy which is the focus of AfL. The students were not encouraged to ask questions and engage in self-reflection. Many of them were silent oftentimes during classroom questioning and questions were usually answered by a specific group of students or the teachers themselves. Recommendations were made based on the results of the study.

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