'Would you like to tidy up now?' An analysis of adult questioning in the English Foundation Stage



Publication Details

Siraj-Blatchford, I. & Manni, L. (2008). 'Would you like to tidy up now?' An analysis of adult questioning in the English Foundation Stage. Early Years: an international journal of research and development, 28 (1), 5-22.


This study provides an extension of analysis concerned with adult questioning carried out in the Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY) study. The REPEY study drew on robust quantitative data provided by the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) project to identify the particular pedagogical strategies being applied by more effective pre-school settings to support the development of the skills, knowledge and attitudes that enable their children to make a good start at school. Following a line of investigation identified in the EPPE analysis, and supported by previous studies, REPEY included a preliminary analysis of the forms of questioning applied by early childhood practitioners. These findings were based on 1967 adult questions identified in a random sample of four half-day observations drawn from each of the 12 pre-school settings that were identified by EPPE as more 'effective'. In this extension of the analysis a text search of the N-Vivo database identified a total of 5808 questions across the full 400 hours of observations of 28 staff that were recorded in 2000- 2001. The aim of the research has been to provide a more thorough analysis of the forms of questioning applied, and to investigate the possibility that the use of openended forms of questioning might be particularly supportive in early childhood development. Surprisingly, it was found that 94.5%of all the questions asked by the early childhood staff were closed questions that required a recall of fact, experience or expected behaviour, decision between a limited selection of choices or no response at all. Only 5.5% were open-ended questions, which provided for increased encouragement (to speculate and trial and error) and/or potential for sustained, shared thinking/talking. This article provides an account of the analysis and the authors' coding and rationale for the seven types of closed questions and four types of open-ended questions that are most commonly asked by early years staff.

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