Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Early Childhood Education

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Kathryn Sharp

Committee Members

Pam Evanshen, Rosemary Geiken, Rebecca Isbell


The purpose of this study was to examine the cognitive types and functions of questions orally posed by early childhood teachers in kindergarten through 3rd grade during a 90-minute literacy block. The cognitive types of questions were determined by the criteria established using Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrix (Hess, Jones, Carlock, & Walkup, 2009). The functions of the posed questions were determined by criteria based on the work of Costa (2001), Hughes (as cited in Fusco, 2012), and Lowery (as cited in Fusco, 2012). This study examined questioning strategies used by 12 early childhood teachers from a Northeast Tennessee School District. The 12 teachers orally posed questions were recorded, scripted, and coded by the researcher to determine each question’s type, frequency, and function and how these indicators serve to increase student engagement during the literacy block.

Results from the study show that the majority of questions posed are low in cognitive level requiring students to perform primarily at the basic level of remembering and understanding. The primary function of the recorded posed questions called for students to verify their understanding and many closed questions were asked during the documented lessons. The time teachers gave students to answer a question was minimal and a single student generated response was the predominant vehicle used to glean an answer to a presented question.

While the teachers in this study appeared to understand the importance of posing high level cognitive questions in order to increase Common Core Standards instruction, results from this study showed that there seems to be a disconnect between what teachers think they do and their actual practice in regard to posing effective questions as a strategy for active student engagement and learning.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.