Effects of Pedagogical Questioning on Singaporean Young Children’s Learning of Novel Categories


Pedagogical questions and learning
adult guidance into exploratory play
target information
enquiry-discovery in exploratory play


There has been a longstanding debate about the advantages and disadvantages of two polarities of teaching methods: direct instruction and discovery learning. Research has shown that questioning might be a viable pedagogical method that combines the advantages of both. When pre-schoolers in the US explored a novel toy with multiple hidden functions, pedagogical questions – questions asked by a knowledgeable teacher who aims to guide children towards learning – have been shown to facilitate more learning and exploration compared to direct instruction or questions asked by a naïve confederate. The current study investigated whether these effects can be observed in Singaporean children’s learning of novel categories. A total of 30 children aged 5–7 (M = 6.51, SD = 0.45) were recruited and randomly assigned to four conditions. In all conditions, children were asked to find out the rule for categorising two types of novel robots by exploring exemplars. Before children started exploring, a hint was given either by a teacher in the form of a direct instruction, by the teacher through a question, by a confederate through a question, or not given. We then measured how much the children explored the exemplars and whether they categorised new cards and identified the rules correctly. Results showed no significant difference between any of the four conditions, which may be due to the small sample size. If a larger sample can confirm the research hypotheses, it will have implications on teachers’ choice of pedagogical methods in early childhood education.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Yun Hui Chwee


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