Teacher questioning and feedback in inquiry-based teaching of science

Chao Chin Chen, Hak Ping Tam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A major approach of contemporary science and mathematics education reform is an emphasis on using inquiry-based teaching as a mean to involve students in the inquiry process and contribute their thoughts. Aims or focus of discussion: In an inquiry-based science classroom, students and teachers both share the responsibility to learn and construct an understanding of science concepts in a cooperative way. Skillful strategies of questioning and feedback are powerful tools to serve these purposes. Arguments/comments/suggestions: If teachers can embed skillfully probing, prompting and thoughtful-provoking questions into their teaching plans, they can diagnose and subsequently extend students' understanding, provide a scaffolding to facilitate their thinking, make meaning cooperatively of science concepts, and elicit higher order thinking on the part of the students. As regards how teachers can give feedback to students' responses productively, there are three suggestions. First, teachers are advised to acknowledge students' effort to engage in thinking with affirmative feedback. Second, teachers could inform students about how to correct and elaborate on their responses with corrective feedback. Finally, teachers could facilitate students' deeper thinking and more coherent understanding by using reinforcement. Conclusion: Teachers who adopt inquiry-based teaching have to face challenges from two aspects, namely, the extent of their knowledge on the subject matters and the effectiveness of their use of teaching strategies in a timely fashion. Inquiry-based teaching requires teachers to have deep content knowledge in the science subjects that they teach with quality teaching skills. Also, teachers need to know how and when to use a variety of strategies effectively. They should embed questioning and feedback properly within an overall inquiry-based pedagogy in order to promote students' academic performances and to enhance their high order thinking.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Horizons in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May
Externally publishedYes


  • Feedback
  • Inquiry-based teaching
  • Teacher questioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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