The thesis analyses the interaction patterns of preschool teachers and the preschoolers
during instruction in three subject areas of the curriculum, literacy, numeracy and
science in preschool settings in Nigeria. Previous research in classroom dynamics has
shown that preschoolers tend to learn better if they are actively engaged through
interaction with their teachers However, because these were carried out at primary and
secondary school levels of education in Nigeria this research provides a comprehensive
examination of how teachers and pupils interact during instruction in pre-primary
classrooms in Nigeria.
The research focused on preschool teachers use of instructional time, direction of
interaction (who-to-whom), instructional approaches (teaching methods), classroom
contexts (whole-class teaching, small group and one-to-one), use of language during
instruction and types of questions, responses and feedbacks during instruction in
preschool settings in Nigeria. The study also examined the extent to which significant
group differences exist in the prevailing classroom interaction patterns based on
grouping factors as class size, and teacher qualification, language of instruction, school
location (urban/rural) and school type (public/private).
Research methods included direct observation techniques, which involved using
two observational instruments (Classroom Interaction Sheet, CIS and Ten-Minute
Interaction Instrument, TMI) and a video camera to record interaction patterns in 216
lessons during the teaching of literacy, numeracy and science. This produced two types
of data (qualitative and quantitative). Data analysis involved the use of frequency
counts, percentages, Chi-square, transcription and graphical/pictorial illustrations. This
gave rise to two types of results - qualitative and quantitative.
Results reveal that Teacher whole-class activity involving direct teaching
occurred very frequently, chorus response occurred more than individual pupil activity,
monologue and other distracting behaviours occurred less frequently. The direction of
communication was mainly from the teacher to the whole class. The more personal oneto-one communication between teacher and pupil occurred less frequently. The teachers,
irrespective of their location and type, spent a larger proportion of their lesson time
interacting with pupils in large groups than in small groups. The major language of
instruction was English language not the language of the pupils' immediate community
as was prescribed by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FME, 2004). The use of
instructional time and direction of interaction tend to be sensitive to language of
instruction. Teacher-initiated interactions and whole class activities are associated more
with the use of English as language of instruction while learner-initiated interactions and
individual/small group activities are associated more with use of language of the pupils'
immediate community during instructional delivery.
The study concluded by discussing the implications of these findings with a view
to improving the following aspects of pre-school education in Nigeria: curriculum
planning, classroom practice, teacher training and in-service programmes.