The ability to ask and answer questions is central to
learning. For more than two thousand years (since Socrates)
the question has been an integral part of teaching. Only
within the last decade and a half, however, has extensive
research been directed to questions and questioning strategies.
The information which has been generated from this
research indicates that teachers largely have been asking the
wrong questions. We have been focusing primarily on
questions regarding the specific information students possessed
rather than questions to promote learning.
The use of questioning skills is essential to systematic
investigation in any subject area. In such an investigation 1)
one asks questions to identify the reason or reasons for the
investigation: 2) questions are asked to direct the search for
information and to synthesize what has been discovered; and
3) the conclusions resulting from investigations are evaluated
via questions. However, using questions to assist
students' investigations is a relatively new technique in the
schools. In the past, teachers primarily questioned students
to ascertain whether or not they were learning the book
content and to see if students were paying attention in class.
This shift in emphasis from learning solely content to
learning processes is to enable individuals to deal intelligently
with their world and their lives. If students can
analyze their lives and the lives of others while in the school
setting, they will comprehend effectively their reality when
they are outside the formal school situation. Education
today aims at the creation of a rational being. A rational
being does not merely possess an effective memory; he/she
must be able to react to data. He/She must be able to think
and he/she must be active in seeking an understanding to
Questions should play a central role in the learning
process. Because of this, we as teachers need to plan our
questions carefully. This doesn't mean script writing; that
would negate creative teaching. However, it does mean we
need to carefully plan our questions by thinking through
possible questions which would guide the students toward
further investigation and a deeper understanding of the
concepts being stressed.
If a teacher utilizes questions effectively, students
will discover that the question is a very valuable learning
tool. It is a device through which they can organize their
thinking to achieve certain objectives. Students who ask
themselves questions as they deal with various learning
situations will provide themselves with data and will develop
an awareness of where there are deficits in data. This
type of knowledge is essential if students are to assume
major roles in their learning process.
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