Asking the Right Question

Research areas 
Digital Cultures
Key contact 

University of Edinburgh Principal's Teaching Award Scheme (PTAS)

01 Jan 201731 Dec 2017

Asking the Right Question

This project was developed from the observation that teachers and students often seem to talk at ‘cross-purposes’, and that dialogues in educational contexts are sometimes not as useful or productive as they could be.

We believe that many dialogues in educational settings start by either the teacher or the student asking a question, and that the quality of this question may be important for the productiveness of the dialogue that follows. We aim to explore the questions that are asked and the subsequent dialogues that take place between teachers and students, focussing both on dialogues that ‘go wrong’ and those that are useful.

Data collection will take the form of interviews with both students and members of teaching staff (or demonstrators/teaching assistants) in three subject areas: Education, Veterinary Sciences and Informatics. We will also analyse the dialogues that take place between teacher and students in online discussion forums, taking a mix of courses which are taught wholly online and those that are in a blended learning format.

This is an exploratory project, which we hope will lead to insights into what can go wrong in dialogues between teachers and students, how good dialogues happen, and how we can support both teachers and students to have more productive discussions.


Research Team

Dr Anna Wood

Dr Christine Sinclair

Dr Hamish Macleod

Dr Paul Anderson (Informatics)

Dr Jessie Paterson (Vet School)