Does Instructor Support Correlates to Task Orientation in Higher Education Students? An Explanatory Study


  • Shallu Sansanwal National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore



Instructor support, task orientation, WIHIC scale, critical thinking of students


Background: Instructor support has been found as an important element of classroom environment which impacts students’ academic achievement. Instructor support helps students to understand the task better, attach task value and motivate them to achieve the mastery goal objectives. Students on the other hand achieve mastery goals when they are more task oriented. Therefore, it is important to understand the relationship between instructor support (guidance, care & questioning) with task orientation in higher education students.Problem statement: The present study recognizes the gap in the literature in explaining a link between instructor support and task orientation in higher education students. There is also a gap in understanding the types of questions that helps students to scaffold and learn better. This study aims to fulfill this gap by investigating how instructor support is related to student task orientation in higher education programs and exploring through student perspective how questions by instructor guide them in their task.Proposition of the study: This is a mixed method study. What is Happening in the Class (WIHIC) scale was used to get the quantitative data from 119 participants from Master’s Methodology Coursework of MED 872. Qualitative phase of the study answered the research question about how questions by instructor helped students in better guidance in task. The results showed that Instructor Support and Task orientation are correlated significantly (t=0.23* at p ? 0.05 levels) and questioning in turn is an important aspect of task orientation as it increases understanding and critical thinking of students.

Author Biography

Shallu Sansanwal, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Early Childhood and special needs Education


Chad N, L., Saichaie. K., Padgett, D. (2012). The effects of teacher behavior on students inclination to inquire and lifelong learning. International Journal for the Scholarship of teaching and learning, 6 (2), 1-21.

Chionh, H. Y., & Fraser, J. B. (2009). Classroom environment, achievement, attitudes and self-esteem in geography and mathematics in Singapore. International Research in Geography and Enviornmental Education, 18 (1), 29-44.

Cicourel, A. V. (1973). Cognitive sociology: Language and meaning in social interaction. Hamondsworth: Penguin Education Publishing.

Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E. (1990). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 453–494). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

denBrok, P., Fisher, D., Rickards, T., & Bull, E. (2006). Californian science students’ perceptions of their classroom learning environments. Educational Research and Evaluation, 12, 3–25.

Dorman, J. P. (2003). Cross national validation of the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) questionnaire using confirmatory factor analysis. Learning Environments Research, 6, 231–245.doi: 10.1023/A:1027355123577.

Feffer, M., & Suchotliff, L. (1996). Decentering implications of social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 415-422.

Frasher, B.J., Fisher, D.L., & McRobbie, C.J. (1996, April). Development, validation and use of personal and class forms of a new classroom environment instrument. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, New York, USA.

Hogan, K., & Pressley, M. (1997). Scaffolding student learning: Instructional approaches and Issues. Advances in learning & teaching. Cambridge, MA, US: Brookline Books.

Joan, L. W., & Loretz, R. A. (2008). Cognitive and social help giving in online teaching: an exploratory study. Education Tech Research Development, 57, 169-192.

Karabenick, S.A. (1998). Strategic help seeking: Implications for teaching and learning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Karabenick, S. A. (2003). Help seeking in large college classes: A person-centered approach. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 28, 37–58.

Karabenick, S. A. (2004). Perceived achievement goal structure and college student help seeking. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96 (3), 569–581.

Karabenick, S. A., & Newman, R. S. (2006). Help seeking in academic settings: Goals, groups and contexts. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Kim, H.B., Fisher, D.L., & Fraser, B.J. (2000). Classroom environment and teacher interpersonal behaviour in secondary science classes in Korea. Evaluation and Research in Education, 14, 3–22.

Lynch, T. (1991). Questioning Roles in Classroom. English Language Teaching Journal, 45 (3), 201- 210.

Martin, L. M., Karabenick, A. S., & Urdan, C. T. (2008). Social Psychological Perspective. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Myers, S. A. (2004). The relationship between perceived instructor credibility and college student in-class and out-of-class communication. Communication Reports, 17, 129-137.

Perry, R. P. (1991). Perceived control in college students: Implications for instruction in higher education. In J.C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp. 1-56). New York: Agathon.

Qatipi, S. (2011). Questioning and its true value in the process of learning and teaching to promote critical thinking. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 38, 71-81.

Sahin, A., & Kulm, G. (2008). Sixth grade mathematics teachers intentions and use of probing, guiding and factual questions. Journal of Math Teacher Education ,11, 221-241.

Stones, C. A. (1998). The metaphor of scaffolding. Its utility for the field of learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disability,31, 344-364.

Tharp, R. G., & Gallimore, R. (1991). A theory of teaching as assisted performance. In P. Light, S. Sheldon, & M. Woodhead (Eds.), Learning to think: Child development in social context (Vol. 2, pp. 42–61). London: Routledge.

Tytler, R., Waldrip, B. G., & Griffiths, M. (2004).Talking to effective teachers of primary science. International Journal of Science Education, 26, 171–194. doi:10.1080/ 0950069032000097370.

Wallberg, H.J. (1981). A psychological theory of educational productivity. In F. Farley & N.J. Gordon (Eds.), Psychology and education: The state of the union (pp. 81–108).Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

Zusho, A., Karabenick, S. A., Bonney, C. R., & Sims, B. C. (2007). Contextual determinants of motivation and help seeking in the college classroom. In R. P. Perry & J. C. Smart (Eds.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education (pp. 611–659). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer Netherlands.