Questioning beyond the Book in Teacher-Child Reading: The Effect of High Cognitively Demanding Questions on Children’s Vocabulary Growth
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Shared book reading (SBR) is considered the standard in fostering preschool children’s oral language skills. However, research has emphasized that extratextual conversation around book reading (i.e., questions, comments, and statements outside the actual reading), in particular, is related to effective book reading because it provides children with the opportunity to interact with word and word meanings beyond the text. The present dissertation examines how teacher questioning around SBR, and particularly high cognitive demand questions, impact children’s vocabulary growth. No reviews of the research have been conducted on the effect of cognitive complexity of questions around SBR on preschoolers’ vocabulary knowledge. Therefore, the second chapter of this dissertation presents a systematic literature review that summarizes and identifies the similarities and differences among studies of questions shared book reading conducted in recent years. The review revealed that the effect of cognitive complexity of questions around SBR on preschoolers’ vocabulary knowledge is limited, and the findings are not conclusive. The third chapter consists of an observational study that examined how the cognitive complexity of teacher-generated questions around SBR was associated with preschoolers’ receptive and expressive vocabulary knowledge. The sample consisted of 100 children nested under 13 teachers who were part of a larger vocabulary intervention study in which small groups of children participated in 18 weeks of 5-day instructional shared reading cycles of approximately 20-minutes. The teachers followed a well-scripted curriculum, but for purposes of the present study only spontaneous, unscripted teacher questions around SBR were considered. The reading sessions were video recorded, and teachers’ questions were coded according a rubric that evaluated cognitive demand level (four levels, from labeling to associating words and concepts) using The Observer XT (Noldus Information Technology, 2013). It was hypothesized that teachers who asked more spontaneous questions than required by the curriculum (i.e., unscripted questions) would be more effective at increasing children’s vocabulary learning. It was also hypothesized that cognitively demanding questions would be associated with higher word learning among children. Contrary to the expectations, the frequency and duration of all unscripted questions did not predict expressive nor receptive children’s vocabulary knowledge on standardized or researcher-developed measured. However, the duration of questions that placed high cognitive demands on the children predicted their scores on a standardized test of expressive vocabulary.
Bravo Paniagua, Tamara Andrea (2015). Questioning beyond the Book in Teacher-Child Reading: The Effect of High Cognitively Demanding Questions on Children’s Vocabulary Growth. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from