What Question? Enabling Dialogue Between Students and their Teachers


  • Anna Katherine Wood, Dr University Edinburgh
  • Paul Anderson, Dr University Edinburgh
  • Hamish Macleod, Dr
  • Jessie Patterson, Dr University Edinburgh
  • Chrstine Sinclair, Dr University of Edinburgh




questions, dialogue, student/teacher relationships, conversations, thematic analysis


Conversations between academics and students play a central part in teaching and learning at university level and effective dialogues are key to academic success. An essential feature of these dialogues is the question which triggers the interaction. However, we note that students are often reluctant to ask questions and that teachers and students sometimes talk at cross-purposes. The aim of this project was to explore, through semi-structured interviews, what happens in dialogues between teachers and students in learning contexts. Our initial results give insights into the barriers to effective dialogue, the conditions that promote dialogues as well as the strategies that can be employed by teachers and students to encourage good dialogues.


Author Biographies

Paul Anderson, Dr, University Edinburgh

Paul Anderson is a Senior Research Fellow with the School of Informatics at Edinburgh University. In addition to his Informatics research, he is particularly interested in the teaching of computer programming. Email dcspaul@ed.ac.uk.

Hamish Macleod, Dr

Hamish Macleod is an Honorary Fellow in the Centre for Research in Digital Education, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ. He is a past teacher on the MSc in Digital Education with particular interests in narrative, and game-informed, approaches in learning. Email : H.A.Macleod@ed.ac.uk.

Jessie Patterson, Dr, University Edinburgh

Jessie Paterson is a Lecturer in Student Learning at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9RG. Email: jessie.paterson@ed.ac.uk. Special interests include: student academic support, professional skills and staff development

Chrstine Sinclair, Dr, University of Edinburgh

Christine Sinclair is Programme Co-Director for the MSc in Digital Education, Moray House School of Education, St John’s Land, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ. Email: Christine.Sinclair@ed.ac.uk. She is particularly interested in dialogic approaches to teaching, student experience, and academic writing, all with a special emphasis on digital environments.


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