Teachers' Scaffolding and Preferences of Display vs. Inferential Questions: Initiation-Response-Follow-up (IRF) Model

Document Type : qualitative and quantitative studies


1 Department of English, Ardabil Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ardabil, Iran

2 Department of English, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran


This study explored the referential or display questions used in teachers’ scaffolding and investigated if they conform to Initiation-Response-Follow-up model. To do so, 6 teachers in young-adult and 6 in adult department, in each department 3 experienced and 3 inexperienced were analyzed. Being full-time teacher or 3-year period one was considered to distinguish the experienced from inexperienced teachers. Three Reach 2 classes with experienced and 3 with inexperienced teachers in young-adult department, and in adult department, 3 Pre-intermediate 1 classes with experienced and 3 with inexperienced teachers were recorded and analyzed through IRF model. The frequency of referential and display questions and uptakes of scaffolding between teachers were also compared. Results indicated experienced teachers used more display questions in scaffolding adult students, while inexperienced ones preferred referential ones. Conversely, experienced young-adult teachers used more referential questions, and inexperienced counterparts used display questions. Moreover, IRF model was met by referential and display questions in adult classes, while it was violated in young-adult classes. Finally, much of the scaffolding in adult classes was more successful than young-adult classes. This study raises teachers’ awareness toward their choice of questions in the classroom to trigger a genuine interaction and its conforming to IRF framework.