Draft paper 2- An account of research into the anxiety pupils and students may experience when answering questions and presenting whole class contexts, with a focus on the coping strategies the learners may employ.

Author/Producer ESCalate/Dr Julie Anderson
  • Julie Anderson (ESCalate - University of Bristol)
Published in Presented at ESCalate ITE Conference
Date Published Summer 2007
Pages 12


Paper to link with presentation at the ESCalate ITE conference 2007


On reading John Holt’s book How Children Fail in the 1990s when still working full time as a school teacher of Year 5 pupils, I was taken aback by his description of the fear and anxiety pupils told him they felt when being asked questions in his classroom. He came over as a caring, supportive teacher - so why were the children so nervous? So began work on an issue that has occupied me ever since and taken me from working with Year 5 school children in a NW England school - to Masters students at the University of Bristol. A very different group of learners and yet, as it turned out, sharing much the same experience.

“Pretty scary” was the response from a year 4 (8/9 years old) pupil in a school in North West England when I asked her how she felt when a teacher asked her a question in class.

I was talking to her as part of what became my doctoral research into how primary pupils perceive answering questions in front of their peers and teachers and her response was typical. What I also found in that particular study was that not only did almost every pupil in her mixed ability classroom find answering questions stressful to some extent, they were also commonly employing coping strategies that were both sophisticated and subtle. My concern was that this could not be enhancing their learning.