Classroom questions

Term Paper, 2009

11 Pages, Grade: 2,3


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Typology of classroom questions
2.1 Display and referential questions
2.2 Open and closed questions
2.3 Other terms of questions

3 Data
3.1 Data description
3.2 Data analysis

4 Discussion

5 Conclusion

6 References

1 Introduction

„Let us...make the study of the art of question-asking one of the central disciplines in language education“(Postman 1979: 140).

In order to show how the importance of questions as part of classroom interaction, I try to evolve a scheme to present numerous types of questions and how they are being used by teacher and student. Depending on the didactic intention there are quite a number of different ways to classify a question. In order to give a general overview I decided to divide my classification into three main parts.

First I am going to give an explanation of the three different types of categorising questions and display what the respective central key points are. Then I explain the difference of questions being asked by the teacher or the student and how they are being used during class. The third section is a practical analysis of questions with the help of the data description followed by a short evaluation displaying whether my framework is useful in analysing the data or if the need of further specification is required. And finally I am going to give a brief summary and try to come to a conclusion.

2 Typology of classroom questions

2.1 Display and referential questions

One of the most influential typologies is that which distinguishes between display and referential questions. The distinction between display and referential questions is based on the status of the information being sought (Dalton-Puffer 2007: 95).

This means that in case of the display questions the teacher knows the answer and the student is supposed to know the answer as well. So basically this kind of questions serves to check the previous knowledge of the pupils or to test what they have already learned so far. In order to make it more concrete, I want to give an example of a classroom situation where the teacher asks a display question (Nunn 1999: 23): (To the teacher is referred to as T and to the student as S)

T: And then we know that Mr Archer came on his own before ... What does this house consist of? Tell me about this house. Yes, Mohammed.

S: It’s a villa with a large garden.

T: Yes…

Furthermore, Dalton-Puffer (2007) points out that display questions aim at putting a specific topic or point at “center stage”.

This aspect of putting a concept or item at “center stage” (Dalton-Puffer 2007) is also true for the second type of questions, the referential questions. But in contrast to the display questions, “referential questions request information not known by the questioner” (Brock 1986: 48). In other words the teacher asks something to which s/he does not know the answer. An example for a referential question would be: “What is your personal opinion towards the re-election of George W. Bush?”

2.2 Open and closed questions

In contrast to the display and referential questions a classification of open and closed questions is much more difficult to accomplish. Although I can assert that closed questions deliver a limited amount of possible responses and the open questions leave the responder with a wider range of options to answer, there can be questions which „may be open in form but closed in function“ (Dalton-Puffer 2007:97).

While the typically closed question is mostly “one which asks for the short, right answer” or “one which may be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’”, “the open question is one which suggests that the teacher does not have one particular answer in mind but is inviting students to consider and advance many possibilities” (Morgan and Saxton 1993: 63).


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Classroom questions
Saarland University  (Anglistik)
investigation classroom interaction
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
416 KB
classroom, Classroom questions, Fragestellung Unterricht, Questions, Analysis questions, Fragetechniken, Englischunterricht
Quote paper
Michelle Becker (Author), 2009, Classroom questions, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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