An investigation of the question-types teachers use to elicit information from children

Sonja P. Brubacher, Martine Powell, Helen Skouteris, Belinda Guadagno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Teachers are required to report suspected child abuse in many parts of the world, but there is a paucity of research characterising how they question children about wrongdoing. Aims: Because children often speak to multiple people before arriving at a forensic interview it is critical to understand how untrained teachers question children. Sample and Methods: Teachers (n = 47) completed a mock interview, written quiz, and rated their expected performance. Results: In both the interview and quiz, teachers asked few open and many leading questions. Yet, they asked proportionally more open and fewer leading questions on the quiz than during the interview, demonstrating an implicit awareness of good questioning. Holding a higher education level degree was associated with asking fewer questions overall, and fewer leading questions, during the mock interview. Higher perceptions of performance after the mock interview were associated with having asked more open and more specific questions. Conclusions: Overall, teachers asked fewer open questions than desired but also demonstrated some awareness of good interviewing skill. We review the teachers' performance by highlighting the positive aspects of their interviewing skills, identifying areas for improvement, and making suggestions for enhancing teachers' abilities to question children about wrongdoing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-140
Number of pages16
JournalThe Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • communication
  • elementary school
  • identification
  • maltreatment
  • mandated reporting
  • question-styles

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