Situated Communication Independent Study/Reading Task (Hargie)

The main aim of this chapter was to further develop the readers understanding of questioning, the range of questions and the important role it plays in our everyday lives when communicating. Some of the key themes within the chapter are the purpose of questions, different types of questions, for example, open or closed questions, how effective each question type is and the range of contexts these questions may be used in.

Within this chapter, Hargie makes several claims surrounding questions and uses a range of evidence to back this up. One claim is that pausing can be used as a type of probe. This is backed up with evidence from Margutti (2006) who showed that teachers in a classroom often use pauses to indicate the start of a new question-answer sequence and micro-pauses were used after a question to show that some form of answer or response was expected.

Another point which Hargie makes is that pupils in a classroom often do not ask questions in the classroom, even when they have one, due to the fear that other pupils may react negatively. This is backed up through a study in the US which showed that the older children get, the more uncomfortable they feel when it comes to asking and answering questions. I strongly agree with this point due to my own experiences as a pupil.

One thing I disagree with is the use of non-leading open-ended questions and other prompts in Box 5.3 from the Orkney satanic abuse crisis. This form of questioning seems very distressing and frustrating for the child and we see them refuse to agree with the social worker. As a result, the original question is still unanswered at the end of the conversation.

One concept mentioned in the chapter was the funnel sequence which is the “approach of beginning an interaction with a very open question and gradually reducing the level of openness.” (Kahn and Cannell, 1957, pg. 127)

Reference: ‘Finding out about others: the skill of questioning’, in Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge.

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