Questions and Verbal Feedback and their Implications on Thai Undergraduate Student Participation

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This study investigated effects of teachers’ questions and verbal feedback on student participation in three undergraduate English conversation classes. The research instruments were observations, a questionnaire, and interviews. The results showed that for the question types, referential questions were the most frequently asked questions in two classrooms and display questions were more common asked questions in one class. Regarding effects of display and referential questions on student participation, longer student responses were elicited by referential questions (3.6 the average words per a referential question, but about 2 words per a display one). Concerning the verbal feedback types, the results showed the high occurrence of interactional feedback in all classes. For effects of evaluative and interactional feedback on student participation, surprisingly in two classes evaluative feedback was associated with longer statements and answers than interactional one. In terms of student satisfaction on questions and verbal feedback, from the questionnaire results it was seen that the students were satisfied with referential questions and interactional feedback. Another interesting result from the questionnaires was that the students were motivated to participate in classroom discussion by both teachers’ questions and verbal feedback. Regarding the effects of teachers’ questions and verbal feedback on student participation in general, the verbal feedback was associated with a bit longer statements and answers than the questions (3.4 the average words per verbal feedback, but about 3 words per question). It can be concluded that in these classes, both questions and verbal feedback had the potential to be supportive of different aspects of student learning. Since questions and verbal feedback allows teachers to increase or reduce students’ opportunities for discussion, it is necessary to select the appropriate type to support students’ participation. Teachers should develop their use of questions, verbal feedback, and aim for patterns of classroom communication that are appropriate for students’ abilities, interests and motivation.

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