A meta-analysis of the effects of higher cognitive questions on students' academic achievement: Implications for teacher educators
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Questioning continues to be one of the most popular classroom instructional strategies. When appropriate questioning skills are used, students can be motivated and actively engaged in the learning process. However, researchers have found that the majority of questions asked by teachers are lower cognitive level questions that emphasize rote memory and recall of factual information, which do not help students develop conceptual understanding. In addition to posing questions, pre-service teachers have also demonstrated difficulty in listening and responding to students. Limited teacher's questioning techniques have been a hindrance to the discussion or interaction in the classroom. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of teacher's higher cognitive questions and to improve pre-service teacher's questioning techniques. To investigate the effectiveness of teacher's higher cognitive questions, a meta-analysis was performed which examined the statistics and characteristics of 18 studies focusing on questioning strategies that met the screening criterion. Many researchers have conducted similar studies, but their results were conflicting. Even three previous meta-analyses revealed inconsistent results. Additionally, there has been a lapse of 25 years since the last meta-analysis. Therefore, there was a need to conduct another meta-analysis that included additional literature and updated statistical analyses. The result of the meta-analysis concerning questioning types revealed a mean effect size of +0.259 (p < .001), which indicated that teacher's higher cognitive questions had a small effect on students' academic achievement. The homogeneity test showed a statistically significant difference in the effectiveness of higher cognitive question across the 18 studies (Q = 129.816, p < .0001). Therefore, analyses of moderator variables that might contribute to the variation in effect sizes were conducted. Although "teacher experience" was the only moderator variable that made a significant difference, analyses of moderator variables, such as grade level, training duration, and treatment duration, still revealed important findings. Classroom implications, recommendations for future research, and limitations of the study were also discussed. As a result of the study of various moderator variables, a practitioner paper was developed in order to make connections between research and practice. A review of the literature revealed difficulties teachers had in questioning and useful activities to include in teacher training courses. To help pre-service teachers to improve their questioning skills, several important techniques were discussed and research-based practices have been provided. The practitioner paper offered teacher educators practical suggestions as to how to improve pre-service teachers' questioning techniques. It is hoped that the meta-analysis and practitioner paper will provide an overview concerning results of studies focusing on teacher's use of higher cognitive questions, assist teacher educators in improving questioning technique training, and facilitate researchers in improving the design of future studies focusing on the popular instructional strategy of questioning students.