In the classroom, many interactions can take place – among the students, between the students and the teachers, and even participants in the classroom with the content material itself. The amount of interaction that takes place in the classroom are important indicators that tell us the engagement and participation level of a particular teaching and learning process.
Interactions simply contribute towards the entire process of learning in a way that it frames the focus of a lesson – whether it is teacher-centered or student-centered. Although both allow for interaction to take place, the manner of interacting may differ in the sense that teacher-focused interactions are one-way and less engaging. Whereas, student-focused interactions are more dynamic and interspersed with exchanges of thoughts and opinions.
There is no way of favoring either side as both kinds of interactions are deemed important in the classroom. Whether it is teacher-focused or student-focused, it is crucial for one to find the right balance between both forms of interaction to ensure that the teaching and learning experience is equiponderant.
In a teacher-centered classroom, interactions:
- Solely focus on the teaching aspect of the lesson
Teacher-focused interactions are there to enrich the teaching process.
- Are intended to provide information to the students
Teacher-focused interactions aim to convey content knowledge to the students to ensure the students are aware, clear of, and understand what is being taught.
- Require little to no input from the students
It’s intention is to make sure the learning content is delivered effectively with no interruptions.
In a student-centered classroom, interactions:
- Solely focus on the learning aspect of the lesson
Student-focused interactions are there to enhance the learning experience for the students.
- Are intended to increase students’ engagement
When students actively participate in the learning process, it increases their focus and retention of the lesson.
- Offer students an opportunity provide their input to the learning process
It’s intention is allow students to ask questions, contribute ideas, and present their own perspectives on different matters pertaining to the lesson.
Clearly, both types of interactions complement each other but how does a teacher maintain harmony in the classroom when these interactions take place?
It has been argued that neither types of classroom interaction should overlap one another and that they should work hand in hand to ensure holisticness of the teaching and learning process. Therefore, one must identify the common ground between both types of interactions so that rather than ‘fighting’ with each other, these interactions act as companions in the classroom.
What seems to be in common between teacher-centered and student-centered interactions is the asking of questions. Questioning is a technique used in the classroom not just to elicit information but to open room for conversation, discussion, and debate.
Although a teacher-centered classroom does not allow that many opportunities for students to ask questions, it does require the teachers to ask the right questions to the students that can provide teachers with enough information that reveal each student’s level of understanding of what has been taught. In a way, questioning is a skill that all teachers must have.
One of the many frameworks that teachers can rely on when it comes to questioning in the classroom is ‘Bloom’s revised taxonomy’ which supports teacher-centered interactions and at the same time, encourages student-centered interactions.
It allows teachers to make assessments through what students contribute toward the learning experience. Just like the previous Bloom’s taxonomy, the revised taxonomy consists of six levels of thinking that build on each other.
Here’s each level of Bloom’s revised taxonomy and how the questions prompted at each level can strengthen the type of interactions that occur in a classroom:
This taxonomy helps the teacher to draw out factual information and answers from the students. It tests their ability to recall information or content taught earlier. Teachers can ask questions that prompt students to identify, describe, list, and name.
This taxonomy assesses whether the students not only retain information but understand what the information is meant to convey. Teachers can ask questions that prompt students to explain, elaborate, give examples, and summarize.
This taxonomy asks students to apply what has been learned into practice. So, the questions asked by the teachers to the students will require them to predict, interpret, prepare, produce, and use what has been learned. From here, the classroom interactions will begin to shift towards a more student-centered focus.
This taxonomy will prompt students to break down what has been learned into smaller chunks or parts. The questions will ask students to categorize, compare, classify, and distinguish. Through these questions, the students are actively engaged in trying to elicit the right information out of what is learned.
This taxonomy is wholly focused on the students as it concerns their own thoughts, opinions, and judgments on certain matters. They would have to not only criticize but also defend on the evaluation that they’ve made.
This taxonomy gives full autonomy to the students in which they can develop or propose new ideas and perspectives to what has been learned. Teachers can ask questions that prompt students to invent, construct, design, and plan.
From these taxonomies, one can see how the interactions in the classroom gradually change from teacher-centered to student-centered. This means that neither type of interaction is less or more important in a teaching and learning process.
Through the revised Bloom’s taxonomy, the importance of effective questioning in the classroom is undoubtedly proven. Bloom’s framework shows that classroom interactions can do more than just provide teachers with answers or allow students to ask questions but it proves that the right questions can enable a constructive and productive learning experience in any classroom.