Teacher Questioning And Student Participation Education Essay

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As an important part of classroom discourse, teacher questioning plays an important role in classroom teaching and has been the focus of linguistic and pedagogical studies (Nunan, 1991). There are several reasons why they are so commonly used in teaching.

They stimulate and maintain students' interest.

They encourage students to think and focus on the content of the lesson.

They enable a teacher to clarify what a student has said.

They enable a teacher to elicit particular structures or vocabulary items.

They enable teachers to check students' understanding.

They encourage student participation in a lesson. (Richards and Lockhart, 1996: 185).

Second language researchers have proposed that teacher questions play a crucial role in language acquisition. "They can be used to allow the learner to keep participating in the discourse and even modify it so that the language used becomes more comprehensible and personally relevant" (Banbrook and Skehan, 1989: 142).

In addition, many previous classroom-based studies have focused on the taxonomy of teacher questions. Barnes (1969) identified the closed-ended and open-ended questions. Moreover, a display question is a question to which the questioner already knows the answer while a referential question is a question where the teacher does know the answer and is genuinely interested in hearing the answers from students (Long and Sato, 1983). And there are questions that either assist or assess (Tharp and Gallimore, 1988). According to Brock, referential questions can increase students' language output in class and thus promote language acquisition. "An increased use by teachers of referential questions, which create a flow of information from students to teachers, may generate discourse which more nearly resembles the normal conversation learners experience outside of the classroom" (Brock, 1986: 49).

Although at a theoretical level, referential questions are likely to trigger more immediate output than display questions, the distinction is too simple to offer an in-depth understanding of teacher questioning as it focuses on the types of questions rather than the abilities elicited. The nature of questioning in constructivist-based teaching environment is different. In such an environment, the teacher's intent is to elicit what students think, to encourage them to elaborate on their answers and ideas, and to help them construct conceptual knowledge. Therefore, questioning can diagnose and extend students' ideas and the teacher can engage students in higher-level thinking including analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation as those questions are open-ended and requiring one-sentence or two-sentence answers (Brookhart, 2010).

Teaching questioning takes another form of "a reflective toss" in the feedback move of the IRF sequence (van Zee and Minstrell, 1997a). A reflective question is posed to a student by engaging his or her previous response to a teacher question, thus extending the teacher-student interaction and further exploring students' ideas. A reflective toss usually consists of three parts, i.e. a student statement, the reflective question and a student statement. Furthermore, the teacher's use of a reflective toss fulfills a series of subgoals. They help students clarify their ideas, consider different opinions and be aware of the discussion and their own thinking (van Zee and Minstrell, 1997b).

While most studies center on the role of teachers in classroom, student participation is directly related with the quality of teacher-student interaction. Student participation has become a hot issue in the field of SLA research. Tsui (1996) conducted a survey among 38 teachers on the elements of reticence in middle school classrooms in Hong Kong and discovered five influential factors: students' low English proficiency, students' fear of making mistakes and getting laughed at by others, lack of wait time for students to think due to teachers' intolerance of reticence, uneven allocation of turns to students and teachers' incomprehensible input. Karp and Yoels (1976) carried out a one-month observation program in the 10 classes at an American private university and identified the "consolidation of responsibility." On one hand, teachers would only call on some specific students to answer their questions. On the other hand, some other students would remain silent in class as they were rarely called upon. Through the observation of fifteen classroom sessions and out-of-class interviews with two female and two male students, Morgenstern discovered (1992) the phenomenon of some students monopolizing speech opportunities. Four unspoken rules for class participation have established among the students: "(1) do not ask stupid questions; (2) do not waste the teacher's time; (3) do not waste class time; and (4) try to find the answer before asking the teacher. Some students function under the assumption that only those with the most knowledge should speak, thus assuming a hierarchy of knowledge" ("Action and Inaction" ).

2.2 Previous Studies of Goal-directed Discourse and Principle of Goal Direction

Prior to Liao Meizhen's proposal of the Principle of Goal Direction, many pragmatics researchers had noticed the goals implied in discourse. Since then, a few studies abroad and in China have focused on goals in their discourse analysis.

Parisi and Castefranchi (1981) believe that one of the best ways to study and understand human beings is to unveil the purpose of their actions, that is to say, how the purposes are pursued and achieved under certain conditions through certain means. In their view, goals can be classified into various categories as conscious, unconscious, situated, routine, biological, functional, institutional, social, interactional, invalid, etc. Their research laid the foundation for the development of the Principle of Goal Direction.

In his article "What is Conversational Rhetoric," Gu Yueguo (1989) takes goals as an important parameter in discourse analysis and argues that all speech acts are goal-directed from the angle of Speech Act Theory. The two types of goals in conversation, i.e. "rhetoric purpose" and "extra-linguistic goal," are explained in detail in the article. To quote one of his examples given in his work, "please turn on the TV" is used to ask the hearer to turn on the TV, which is more than conveying information, and thus the goal is an extra-linguistic one. He (1989) defines rhetoric purpose as the choice of a particular type of discourse to ensure the successful communication of the speaker's extra-linguistic goal to the hearer.

In his "Doctor-patient interaction as Goal-directed Discourse in Chinese Sociocultural Context," Gu (1996) conducts analysis of Chinese doctor-patient interaction by adopting a goal analysis approach as this interactive process is regarded as "a purposeful and dynamic social process directed towards a common goal" and the product of the social process is the institutional discourse. His findings reveal that human discourse in essence is a goal-directed activity.

Liao Meizhen benefited from Parisi and Castefranchi's theory of goal and proposed the goal-direction analysis model. Through his successful applications to forensic discourse, he holds that the analysis model can also be used for other institutional and daily conversation analysis.

Several researchers have already adopted the goal-direction model in their analysis of different types of discourse. "A Goal Approach to Teacher's and Classroom Discourse Analysis" by Deng Jun and Peng Jinding (2008) investigated the speech motivation and objective convergence based on a sample teacher's discourse in her college English reading course. The study focuses mainly on examining the coherence between the teacher's verbal strategies and the predefined class objectives during the three procedures of the lesson, i.e. lead-in, passage explanation and topic discussion.

"An Analysis of Job Interviews Based on the Principle of Goal Direction" by He Lei (2009) studies the goals and goal system, goals and strategies, and goals and power in three job interviews. His findings provide useful implications to job seekers in terms of improving their interview skills. The author has found that the Principle of Goal Direction is also applicable to other social discourse besides forensic discourse.

The Principle of Goal Direction has also found its way into the analysis of literary works. "The Pragmatic Analysis of the Interrogative Sentence with the Communicative Goal" by Dong Jiahong (2006) studies the interrogative sentences in "Thunderstorm" in terms of the form and the content. The author maintains that the interrogative sentence user has the goal of proper choice in the speech form and the goal of seeking information and conducting some kind of speech act. Wang Guifen and He Guanghui (2010) analyzed the discourse behavior of men and women in "Hills like White Elephants" from the goal-directed perspective. Their findings reveal that the miscommunication between men and women are closely related to the pursuit of different goals but the fundamental factor is the difference in social power.

2.3 Music Appreciation for Non-music Majors in College

Music education for non-music majors has evolved into one of the hottest issues in the global educational circles since the world entered the 21st century. Most western countries have taken this as an important part of their educational reforms. Due to the long-term influences of the examination-oriented education, China has a very short history of music education for non-music majors. However, with the progress of China's reform and opening up, economic and cultural development and the ever-increasing fierce competition for talents, the general collegiate music education has begun to receive due attention.

In recent years, several Chinese music educators have carried out research in this field. In "On the Curricular Innovation Practice of Music Appreciation in Universities," Yuan Ye (2005) proposes that a teaching style that is discussion-oriented, context-based and open-ended has the potential of changing the traditional teaching style that focuses on technicalities and borders on single-sidedness. Moreover, setting up a flexible teaching mode complemented by an open network for independent study, multi-media visual aids will promote the innovative practice for the course of Music Appreciation in Chinese universities (ibid). Chu Hailun (2007) puts forward four points of advice in his "On Teaching Music Appreciation in Comprehensive Universities" that while teaching non-music students, teachers should stimulate students' interest in classic music, elaborate on the key musical elements with examples through listening sessions, introduce the cultural background of a musical piece and impart some listening experience and methods to students.

In addition, music appreciation can contribute to the mental health of college students. With the ever fierce competition especially in terms of job seeking multiplied by the intensity of interpersonal relations, an increasing number of college students have psychological problems. Yu Fang (2011) presents her survey results in "Influence of Music Appreciation Course upon Undergraduates' Psychological Health." 90% of the students who took part in the survey like listening to music. 50% of them who took the course of Music Appreciation state that they are experiencing some kind of psychological difficulty. The majority of them agreed that music appreciation serves as a crucial method of self healing. In order to achieve this healing effect of music appreciation, the author holds that teachers should conduct their teaching with due attention to the needs of individual students and establish a teacher-student relationship built on trust, sincerity and care. Moreover, teachers should guide students to discover beauty, truth and kindness and improve their appreciation skills through listening to music.

While the studies of music appreciation in China are mostly theoretical and summative based on the teaching experience of the researchers, some studies abroad focus on more specific aspects of teaching music in classroom. In "Personalized System of Instruction versus the Lecture-Demonstration Method in a Specific Area of a College Music Appreciation Course," Joseph Jumpeter (1985) presents the results of the experiment on comparing the two teaching methods. The Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) was developed by Fred S. Keller. He explained that the characteristics of PSI include "self-paced learning" in which the student proceeds through the course material at his or her own pace, "mastery learning" where units of the course material is well ordered, the use of proctors who can answer students' questions about the course material, the use of study guides and the option to attend lectures for stimulation if needed. Results of the study indicated that both PSI and the lecture-demonstration method produced statistically significant changes in achievement and listening opinion, and that no significant differences occurred between the two methods. Still, PSI proves to be an effective teaching method in teaching music appreciation courses.

Randall Everett Allsup and Marsha Baxter (2004) argue for the importance of the use of questions and discussions in "Talking about Music: Better Questions? Better Discussion!" The authors point out that while music listening for most young people is an intuitive experience that reflects moods, memories, fashion and fun, it is important to equip students with the necessary skills and language to describe, discuss and defend the music they know and like. There are generally three types of questions, i.e. open questions, guided questions and closed questions. An initial open question is to gather musical information. A guided question is to obtain more targeted responses from students. And closed questions have pre-determined or standard answers. More importantly, the use of analytical, judicial and creative questions can develop critical thinking and meta-cognition, help students justify or reconsider their preferences and eventually lead them to deepen and broaden their perspectives.

In sum, this comparative study aims to explore the similarities and differences of teacher-student interaction in the two music appreciation courses under the guidance of the Goal Direction Principle so as to draw some useful implications for teaching music appreciation as well as other relevant subjects in Chinese universities.