Quarterly Teachers’ Use of Questions During Shared Book Reading: Relations to Child Responses

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Posted on September 21, 2021 by childrenslearninginstitute

Timeline: 2017-2019

Principal Investigators:

Richa S. Deshmukha, PhD, The Ohio State University

Tricia Zucker, PhD, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)


Sherine R. Tambyraja, PhD, American Institutes for Research

Jill M. Pentimonti, PhD, Michigan State University

Funding Agency:

Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

Description of the Project:

This study examined the extent to which preschool teachers used different types of questions during classroom-based shared book reading. Researchers goals were to describe the question wording teachers use to elicit child responses and to consider sequential relations between types of question wording and student responses. All the sessions were video-recorded, transcribed and then coded by trained coders. During reading, teacher total extra-textual utterances included 23.74% questions (n = 5207 questions). The wording of these questions mostly included Wh-question forms (who,what, when, where) or question forms that required only a yes/no response. Yet sequential analyses demonstrated that less frequently occurring question forms, such as Why-questions and How-procedural questions elicited longer, multi-word responses from students. Results further suggested that students readily answered most questions accurately; although, Why-questions produced more inaccurate student responses, this level of challenge is likely appropriate. Unfortunately, most teacher questions were easy for children to answer accurately or with a single word, thereby indicating teachers are not demonstrating Vygotskian principles (1978) of adjusting their questioning techniques to a level of challenge that is just above children’s overall level of mastery. Important implications of these findings are discussed for educators as well as curriculum developers.


Participants included 96 preschool and kindergarten teachers who read aloud a standard narrative text to their whole class of students. Students were between the ages of 3 and 6 teachers predominantly communicated in English in the classroom.


The study took place in preschool and kindergarten classrooms in South Central and Midwest states.