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Teacher-Student Interaction In Classrooms

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 4226 words Published: 4th May 2017

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The education system in Pakistan depicts an undesirable situation, especially the classroom environment. Teaching learning process in the country at secondary and tertiary level is too weak and our classroom environment is totally based on rote memorization. There is no provision for the development of intellectual and thinking skills among students who are given very less time for active participation and interaction. The teacher seems to be in a very dominant role in the class. Unfortunately, poorly structured classroom quickly deteriorate into a vacuous waste of time.

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Recent research on teaching effectiveness based on large-scale meta-analysis conducted by Walberg (1986) indicates that the seven factors are key elements of effective teaching: engaged academic learning time, use of positive reinforcement, cooperative learning activities, positive class atmosphere, higher-order questioning, cues and feedback and use of advance organizers. The system of interaction developed by Flander shows how these elements fit together in actual classroom interaction.

Role of the teacher in making classroom climate conducive for learning is highly crucial. The classroom climate is built up by the pattern of interaction between teacher and student’s verbal exchanges, asking questions, responding and reacting. The most important factor in a classroom situation are the interactions and exchanges initiated by the teacher and students.

Jackson (1968) reports that teachers are typically involved in more than 1,000 verbal exchanges with their students every day. There is a lot of talking; enough to give even the strongest vocal cords a severe case of laryngitis. Count the number of verbal exchanges teachers have with their students and the count during a classroom scene will give an idea of how much teachers talk.

The present study will be designed to investigate the patterns of classroom interaction at Elementary level in the light of Flander’s interaction analysis system in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. The study will be further delimited to cities of Kohat and Peshawar.

Statement of the Problem

The problem taken up for investigation can be stated in precise term as “A Study of Teacher Student Interaction in Classrooms at Elementary Level in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”.


The objectives of the study will be

To explore the patterns of classroom interaction at elementary level in the light of Flander’s interaction analysis.


About two-third of classroom time is devoted to talking at s elementary level.

About two-third of the talking time, the person talking is the teacher at elementary level.

About two-third of the teacher’s talk is “direct” (that is, lecturing, directing and controlling) at elementary level.

Review of Related Literature

Interaction between teacher and students is essential in the teaching learning process. Teacher and student both are the key elements of this process. Different educationist like Good lad, (1984) Bellack (1965) and Jackson (1968) conducted researches studies. Among these researchers, Flander (1963) conducted research on classroom interaction and developed an instrument called Flander’s interaction analysis with which he was able to categorize student and teacher verbal behavior. The system tells a great deal about the nature and quality of classroom verbal interaction.

As a result of applying his interaction analysis system in Classroom settings involving teachers, Flanders came up with “the rule of two third”. lie found that someone is talking during two third of the Classroom time. Approximately two-third of that time, the person doing the talking is the teacher. Two-third of the teacher’s talk is what Flanders calls “direct” talk. Flander suggests that this two third pattern has unfortunate consequences in that students are forced into a passive role that eventually results in negatives attitudes, lower achievement, and a general dependency on the teacher.

To use the Flander’s Interaction Analysis, one codes the verbal interaction in 1 in 10 categories, plots the coded data onto a matrix, and analyses the matrix.

Categories for Interaction Analysis:

Indirect Teachers Talk

Accepts feelings. Acknowledges student-expressed emotions (feelings) in a non threatening manner.

Praises or encourages and provides positive reinforcement of student contribution.

Accepts or uses ideas of students and clarifies, develops, or refers to student contribution of ten non evaluative.

Asks questions, solicits information or opinion (not rhetorically)

Lectures, presents information, opinion of orientation; perhaps includes

Gives directions supplies direction or suggestion with which a student is expected to comply.

Criticizes or justifies authority and offers negative evaluation of student contributions or places emphasis on teacher’s authoritative position.

Student talk-response, gives a response to the teacher’s question, usually a predictable answer.

Student talk-initiation initiates a response that is unpredictable or creative in content. Silence or confusion leaves periods of silence or inaudible verbalization

Pedagogical Game

Bellack (1965) has analyzed verbal exchanges between teacher and student and likened them to a pedagogical game. The game is so cyclical and occurs so frequently that many teachers and students do not even know that they are playing. There are four moves:

The teacher provides information, directions and introduces the topics.

The teacher asks a question.

The students answers the question, or tries to

The teacher reacts to the student’s answer and provides feedback. These four steps make up a pedagogical cycle. Teachers initiate about 85 percent of the cycles, which are used over and over again in classroom interaction.

Although these cycles can be found in a majority of classrooms, the quality and effectiveness of these four steps vary widely. When teachers learn to enhance and rune each of the moves of the pedagogical cycle, student achievement is increased. Doland (1985) asks “Have you ever been to a class where the teacher is bombarded with the question? `I don’t get what you mean”. When such complaints are constant in a class, it is a sure sign that the teacher is not making effective use of an essential teaching skill: clarity and academics structure. A growing body of research makes it clear that these skills are related to student achievement.

Students, therefore, need a clear understanding of what they are expected to learn and they need to be motivated to learn it. Effective structuring sets the stage for learning and typically occurs at the beginning of the lesson. Although the length of structure will vary depending on the age, ability and background of the students and difficulty of the subject matter, the following components are usually ‘build in an effective academic structure.

a. Objectives. Let the students know the objectives of each lesson. They, like the teacher, need a road map of where they are going and why.

Review. Help students review prior learning before presenting new information. If there is confusion, correct each.

Motivation. Create an “anticipatory set” that motivates students to listen to the presentation. This can be done through an intriguing question, an anecdote, a joke or interesting teaching materials.

Transition. Relate new information to previously attained knowledge and experience. Provide ties and connections that will help students integrate old and new information.

Clarification Break down a large body of information. Do not inundate students with too many facts. ‘Ibis is particularly true for young children and slower learners, although it also applies to older and faster learners.

Examples. Give several examples and illustration to explain main points and ideas.

Directions. Give directions distinctly and slowly. If students are confused about what they are supposed to do, repeat or break information into small segments.

Enthusiasm. Demonstrate personal enthusiasm for the academic content. Make it clear why the information is interesting and important.

Closure. Close the lesson with brief review or summary.

The majority in academic structuring takes place at the beginning of the lesson, but there may be several points throughout the lesson where sub-structuring or brief presentation of information are also necessary. Substructures initiate new pedagogical cycles and allow the discussion to continue. A clear summary or review is also important at the close of the lesson.

Good questioning is at the very core of good teaching. As John Dewey (1933) said. “To question well is to teach well. In the skilful use of the questions more than anything else lies the fine art of teaching.” Since questioning is a key element iii guiding learning, all students should have equal access to classroom questions and academic interaction.

If you want all students, and not just the quickest and most assertive, to answer questions, establish a protocol for participation and interaction. For example, make a rule that students must raise their hands and be called on before they may talk. (Donald, 1985).

Although it is important to keep classroom discussion moving at a brisk pace, sometimes teachers push forward too rapidly. Slowing down at two key places during classroom discussion can usually improve the effectiveness and quality of classroom responses. In the research on classroom interaction, this slowing down is called ‘wait time’.

Mary (1986) research shows that after asking a question, teachers typically wait only one second or less for a student response (wait time 1). If the response is not forthcoming in that time, teachers rephrase the question, asks another student to answer it, or answer it themselves. If teachers can learn to increase their wait time from one second to 3-5 seconds, significant improvements in the quantity and quality of student response usually will take place. There is another point in classroom discussion when wait time can be increased. After students complete an answer, teachers often begin their reaction or their next question before a second has passed (wait time 2). Once again, it is important for teachers to increase their wait time from one second to 3-5 seconds. Based on her research, Mary (1986) has determined that increasing the pause after student gives an answer is equally as important as increasing wait time. Resultantly, classroom interaction is changed in several positive ways.

Recently, attention has been directed not only at how teachers ask questions, but also at how they respond to student answers. A study analyzing classroom interaction in more than 100 classrooms in five states found that teachers generally use four types of reactions.

Praise. Positive comments about student work, such as “Excellent, good job”.

Acceptance. Comments such as “Uh-huh” and “Okay” which acknowledge that student answers are acceptable.

Remediation. Comments that encourage a more accurate student response or encourage student to think more clearly, creatively, logically. Sample remediation comments include “Try again”, “Sharpen your answer”, “Check your addition,”

Criticism. A clear statement that an answer is inaccurate or a behavior

paper”) as well as comments that simply indicate an answer is not correct (“Your answer to the third question is wrong”)

Good lad (1984) said that a snapshot of classrooms taken at random would in all likelihood show teachers talking and questioning and students listening and responding. Further, observations in 1000 classrooms showed that teachers interact less and less with students as they go through the grades. The elementary classroom is more interactive than the high school one; the high school classroom is more interactive than college. Most students play a more passive role in classroom interaction at the end of the schooling process than at its beginning. Ironically, interviews with students show that they are happiest when they are actively involved in their learning.

Communications and Interaction

Education with its correlated activities of teaching and learning involves communication as well as reciprocal interaction between the teacher and pupils, as channels of realizing its objectives. Communication is a Latin word, meaning’ common’.

Hence communication implies having common experiences with other people. The word communication means a wide variety of things to different people. The following are some of the widely accepted definitions for communication.” Communication means sharing of ideas and feelings in a mood of mutuality”.

“Communication involves interaction which encourages “give and take.” This provides feedback to persons involved in exchanging ideas.

“Communication is a process of sharing of experiences till it becomes a common possession.”

“Effective communication is a two-way process including feedback and interaction.”

It is rather difficult, if not increasingly impossible, to provide children with actual first-hand experiences as the world becomes increasingly complex. Obviously, some substitute experience must be evolved and used to enable children to understand and conceptualize their world. This is the essence of communication as an integral part of teaching.

Teacher’s Behavior and Classroom Interaction

Teaching behavior is an act of the teacher which occurs in the context of classroom interaction. Teachers behave in different ways and therefore there are different types of classroom interactions. Some teachers are very strict and some are very kind and lenient. Some are witty and humorous and some are dull. There are some who are very stern and serious all the time. Certainly, the teacher’s behavior pattern sets the pattern of pupil behavior in a classroom. The teacher’s behavior tends to create an atmosphere which is described as classroom climate. We may classify the teacher’s classroom behavior into two categories –

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(1) Demonstrative and (2) integrative. When a teacher talks, commands, restricts pupil’s freedom to talk, he is dominative. When he allows pupils to talk, ask questions, accepts their ideas and stimulates their participation in class activities, he is integrative. It is, therefore, the teacher’s behavior which sets the pattern for learning atmosphere or climate in the classroom. If he is generally dominant, he promotes such a climate in the class. If he is generally integrative, he aids in integrative climate.

Techniques of interaction analysis have been helpful in the analysis of teaching behavior. Although only a small proportion of verbal communication is recorded, it is possible to infer about classroom events. It is possible to estimate the initiation and response on the part of the teacher and pupils and a number of other interesting features of teacher- pupils relationship. (Amidon & Hunter, 1967).

Interaction Analysis

Interaction analysis is a process of encoding and decoding the study pattern of teaching and learning. In the coding process, categories of classifying statements are established, a code symbol is assigned to each category and a trained observer records by jotting down code symbols. In the decoding step, a trained analyst interprets the display of coded data even though he may not have been present when the data were collected. Although there are many systems for coding spontaneous verbal communication in classroom, typical system for interaction analysis will usually include:

a. A set of categories, each defined clearly. A procedure for observation and a set of ground rules which govern the coding process,

Steps for tabulating data in order to arrange a display, and suggestion which can be followed in some of the more common application.

Classroom interaction analysis can be used for in service and pre-service education in order to help teachers improve classroom instniction. This requires some kind of objective feedback to the person who is trying to change his behavior.

Classroom Interaction Technique

Study of classroom had always deserved the attention of research workers and, as a result, it was in the late 1930’s that the analysis of teaching behavior was used by Anderson. He was interested in developing a reliable technique for the “measurement of domination and of socially integrative behavior in teacher’s contact with children”.

Although classroom observation has been there in training programmes for a long time now, objective and reliable scales of observation is of recent origin. Traditional observation relied on subjective estimates and could not be quantified. The observational techniques have mechanical devices against subjective examination by the observer. Some of the popular observation schedules were developed over the past few years (Amidon and Hough, 1970).



The study will focus on patterns of classroom interaction at Elementary level in the light of Flanders Interaction Analysis. This study will be an observational type of the descriptive method. The following procedure will be adopted for studying patterns of classroom interaction.


As the purpose of the study will be to explore the patterns of classroom interaction at Elementary level in the light of Flander’s Interaction analysis, so the target population comprised all the Elementary level classrooms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


The sample of the study will be consisted of twenty-five classrooms at Elementary level. The number of observed teachers will be twenty five at Elementary level. The number of observed students will be fifteen hundred. All the twenty five classes of the above level will be selected randomly.


The research instrument will be Flander’s Interaction Analysis for observing and measuring classroom interaction patterns. This instrument was developed by Flander (1970)and has been used extensively in various studies regarding classroom interaction. The items in the Flanders interaction analysis will be converted in an observation sheet called coding chart as illustrated by Gay (2000).

The Flanders Interaction Analysis system and specimen of observational sheet is given below.






Accepts Feelings: Accepts and clarifies the tone of feeling of the students in an unthreatening manner. Feelings may be positive or negative. Predicting or recalling feelings are included.

Praises or Encourages: Praises or encourages students action or behavior. Jokes that release tension, not at the expenses of another individual; nodding head and saying “um hm?” or “go on” are included.

Accepts or uses ideas of students: Clarifies, builds, or develops ideas suggested by a student. As teacher brings more of his or her own ideas into play, shift to # 5.

Asks Questions: Asks questions about content or procedure with the intent that the student answers.

Lecturing: Gives facts or opinions about content or procedure, expresses his or her ideas, asking rhetorical questions.

Giving Directions: gives directions, commands, or orders that students are expected to comply with.

Criticizing or Justifying Authority: gives statements that are intended to change student behavior from unacceptable to acceptable pattern; bawling someone out; stating why the teacher is doing in the context of what he or she is doing with extreme self-reference.

Student talk-response: Talk by students in response to teacher. Teacher initiates the contact or solicits students statement

Student’s talk-initiation: Talk initiated by students. If “calling on” student is only to indicate who may talk next, observer must decide whether student wanted to talk.

Silence or confusion: Pauses, short periods of silence, and periods of confusion in which communication cannot be understood by the observer.


The above observational sheet represents 90 seconds for 10 categories of FIA. Each block in observational sheet represents 3 seconds.


The design of the study will be observational, In order to secure data, Flander’s Interaction Analysis procedure will be employed to observe classroom interaction patterns in Elementary level classrooms. The following observation procedure will be adopted:

1. In the each class of 45 minutes duration, 13.50 minutes (810 secs) will be used for observation.

13.50 minutes (810 secs) will be divided in to nine observation session.

Each observation session will be for the duration of 1 .30 minutes (90 secs).

One observation sheet will be used for each observation session of 90 seconds.

Each observation session will constitute 30 observation periods.

Each observation period will be of 3 seconds duration.

The teacher’s behaviour in each observation period of 3 seconds will be observed, classified and recorded in the relevant block of the observation sheet till the termination of observation session of 90 seconds.

Stopwatch will be used to note initiation and expiry of each observation period of 3 seconds.

9. Total time for observation in a single classroom will be 13.50 minutes


The observational session will be an interesting stage for the researcher. He will visit different classrooms, with different subject matter and with different teachers.

Twenty five classes (as mentioned in sample) will be observed in a period of 3 months.


Data collected through the above mentioned research instrument will be coded in the observation sheets. Each table will be analysed and interpreted by using percentages. In order to calculate, all the categories from category 1 to 10 will be added and the mean and standard deviation of 10 categories for 25 Elementary classes will be calculated.


Amidon E. and N. Flanders. 1967. Interaction Analysis as a Feedback System. Theory: Research, and Application. Addison-Wesley Reading, MA, USA Pp.121-140.

Amidon, E. and J. Hough. 1970 Interaction Analysis: Theory, Research, and Application. Addison-wesley Reading, MA. USA Ppl 14-1 18.

Amidon, E. and E. Hunter. 1967. Verbal Interaction in the Classroom: The verbal interaction category system. Addison-wesley. Reading, MA: USA P 52.

Anderson, L. W. and R. B. Burns. 1989. Research in Classrooms: The study of teachers, Teaching and Instruction. Pergamon Press New York. P.101.

Bellack, A. 1965. The language of the Classroom. Teacher college press, New York.

Bruner, J. 1966 “Towards a theory of Instruction. Cambridge, Mass, Belknap Press, Harvard University. Pp 87-99.

Dewey, J. 1933. How we think. D.C.I:leath, Boston.P.266

Donald, E. 1985. Applying Research on Teacher Clarity: Journal of Teacher Education, New York.P.44-48

Flander, N. 1963. “Intent, Action and Feed back,” A preparation for teaching.” Journal of Teacher of Education. New York. Pp25 1-260.

Flander, N. 1967 Teacher Influence in the Classroom. Interaction analysis: theory, research, and application Addison-Wesley. Reading, MA:USA. Pp 103-116.

Flander, N. 1970 Analyzing Teacher Behavior. Addison-Wesley. Reading, Mass: P.171

Flander, N, and G. Morine. 1973 The Assessment of Proper Control and Suitable learning environment. In N. L. Gage (Ed). Mandated evaluation of educators.

Stanford California Center for Research and Development in Teaching. Pp 73-78

Gage, N. L. 1978. The Scientific Basis for the Art of Teaching. Teachers College Press. New York: P-287

Gay,L R. 2000. Competencies for Analysis and Application (5’h ed). Educational Research. Florida International University. Pp.448-457.

Goodlad, J. 1984. A Place Called Classroom. McGraw Hill Publishing Company, New York. P.387-91.

Jackson, W. P. 1968. Life In Classroom. Hold, Rinehart, New YOrk.P.69.

Medley and Mitzel. 1963. Observational schedule. Interaction Analysis, University Press, New Delhi P.86.

Mark N. 1994. Problem Based Learning, McGraw Hill, New York. p 110.


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