Perspectives: The Art (and Science) of Asking Questionsby: Meredith A. Park Rogers and Sandra K. Abell

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Questions serve as formative assessments that provide information to teachers about student learning in relation to curricular goals. In addition to helping students build science concepts, teacher questions can help develop scientific habits of mind. This month’s column discusses how teachers can change their questioning techniques to improve their students’ science learning.

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Reviews (16)
  • on Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:21 PM

Questions are the gateway to knowledge and deeper thinking. This article was well written and easy to read.

Taci Sims
Taci Sims

  • on Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:51 PM

This article is specific on the importance of asking questions. Each section in the article focuses on how to integrate more science thinking in the classroom, and how specific questions asked can potentially open classrooms up to scientific thinking. In order to do so, it is vital that a teacher asks open-ended questions, because that will start classrooms discussions, which will generation more questions. The article stressed that as a teacher you want to ask your children to show, rather than to say. In doing so, that caused the students to not just remember when they learned, but they are able to think, do and apply it. The article goes on to say that when asking questions, which can be a great way to assess your student’s knowledge. Lastly, when you ask your students questions that require them to actually reason, they will have a greater chance of understanding. This was a great article that was very informative.

Katherine White
Katherine White

  • on Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:50 PM

I found this article to be very beneficial. Questions are an important aspect of assessing students understanding on the concepts being taught. As teachers, we need to be aware of how we ask questions to generate the answers and discussions we are looking for. I also found it very useful that the article talks about giving students the appropriate wait time between asking questions. This is essential in allow them to process their thoughts and develop a response. I really enjoyed reading this article and see it as something that will be very useful in my classroom.

Acathea Peterson  (Jenks, OK)
Acathea Peterson (Jenks, OK)

  • on Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:47 PM

I found this article to be well informative as well as a beneficial tool to be used within the classroom. The information provided within this article has the potential to equip any teacher with the knowledge and power to create successful learners. By learning how to ask the right questions, a teacher can help promote higher-order thinking skills and help build a student’s knowledge in science or any other subject as well.

Stella Carr
Stella Carr

  • on Wed Nov 09, 2016 10:38 PM

The article The Art (And Science) of Asking Questions main objective is to explain the art of asking intriguing inquiry questions. Inquiry questions are more in depth questions that support student investigations. The article talks about how asking the right questions can cause help the students “go beyond factual recall to use higher-order thinking skills as they see patterns, make predictions, evaluate evidence, and construct explanations”. Teachers can ask questions that can serve as a formative assessment to check conceptual understanding. Instead of asking simple questions such as “how tall is that tree?” the teacher could ask more inquiring questions like “how do you think the tree grows that big, where does the tree get its mass from, how did it come from a little seed to such a big tree?”. By asking inquiry questions, teachers are getting their students minds racing about cause/effect relationships and these questions cause them to apply their understanding of science concepts rather than answer with straight facts. The Art (And Science) of Asking Questions does a great job of explaining how teachers can become a better questioner. The article states, “There is an art to delivery modes that engage a majority of students and get them thinking”. The article talks about how giving an appropriate wait time for students to answer questions can promote higher-level thinking and get more students involved in answering questions. Teachers should be focused on asking open-ended questions and giving more students a chance to respond in order to have a more inquiry based classroom. If teachers can follow these steps in questions asking, it will lead to the kind of communication that the National Science Education Standards recommend. The Art (And Science) of Asking Questions is a great read for teachers who may be confused about inquiry questions and gives great advice on how to ask them to get an inquire-based classroom.

Breanne D
Breanne D

  • on Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:27 AM

This article is a great tool for teachers who are new to teaching science, who are trying to incorporate more inquiry based questioning in their classrooms or teachers who are just starting out and need help with inquiry based questions. The article gives examples of different levels of questioning a teacher can use, and then how the different levels of questioning helps the students in the end. Rogers and Abell advocate for teachers to promote more student thinking in science lessons by suggesting teachers to ask more open-ended questions in discussion. They also supported their statements with two different studies done in elementary classrooms and upper level science classrooms of teachers using tailored, open-ended questions while teaching a lesson. The elementary students had an easier time understanding scientific ideas and had them apply their reasoning when questioned. In upper level classrooms, the students gained more experience, had to clarify their explanations more and understood their own and others ideas. Rogers and Abell stated there is ‘an art’ to knowing how to ask the right questions and when to ask them. They stated that the right question helps students go beyond just recalling facts and have to use higher-level thinking skills as they go through the lesson or experiment. There are five forms of productive questions they suggest using: attention focusing, measuring and counting, comparison, action, and problem posing. They suggest using a tailored sequence of questions to help students understand. One last point the two authors make is to give an “appropriate amount of wait time after asking questions can promote higher-level thinking and get more students involved” (p.55). They give suggestions on steps of how to become a better questioner. As a pre-service teacher, I found this article extremely helpful and put my questions at ease of how to make my questioning better. I will definitely be using this article as a reference many times while I make various lesson plans in the future. I would recommend this article to every level of teachers.

Becca Gartmann
Becca Gartmann

  • on Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:14 AM

This article is extremely important and helpful when going about Inquiry-based teaching and learning. Since questioning is so important to the concept of inquiry, everyone should read this article. Not only does it explain why questioning is so important, but it takes it a step further and tells how to ask the kinds of questions that will promote student thinking in science. It then gives examples of well-worded questions and questions that work best when teaching science. If you were confused on how to ask the correct kinds of questions before, you will not be after reading this wonderful article! I found it extremely helpful and gained great insight into the art of asking questions.

Allison Lowe
Allison Lowe

  • on Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:32 PM

This article is a great tool for teachers. It highlights the importance of asking open-ended, in-depth questions to students while working with inquiries. It discusses why teachers should ask questions in science classes, how questions promote science thinking, what questions work best, and how to become a better question asker. It is important that teachers know which questions to ask, and how to ask these questions because this leads to higher order thinking and can spark discussions amongst the class. As a pre-service teacher I found this article extremely helpful because it gave me a sense of how I want to run my science lessons. I think this is also a great article for teachers currently teaching, because as educators we should always be looking for ways to improve our curriculum to enhance student learning. I highly recommend this article.

Katelyn Casillas
Katelyn Casillas

  • on Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:39 PM

The article, The Art (and Science) of Asking Questions should be read and reviewed by every teacher. This is an important read because it gives excellent information about the types of questions you should be asking your students and the importance of question asking. After reading this article I now have a better understanding of asking questions in the classroom setting. I would recommend this article to any teacher and educator.

Danielle C  (Lone Tree, CO)
Danielle C (Lone Tree, CO)

  • on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:47 PM

This article is a great resource for any teacher regardless of the grade or content area you teach. It explained how to ask questions in the classroom and motivate more students to answer them. This article can be used to enhance learning in the classroom but you don't have to take my word for it. Go read it for yourself!

Fears L
Fears L

  • on Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:16 PM

This article provides practical advice for teachers to expand questions from a formative assessment tool to helping to develop scientific habits. By citing current research, the authors outlines the best kinds of questions to ask and provides tips on how to become a better questioner. I really appreciated how this article challenged me to re-evaluate how and why I ask my students questions in science.

Maureen Stover  (Fayetteville, NC)
Maureen Stover (Fayetteville, NC)

  • on Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:40 PM

This article provides insight and suggestions into how to be a better questioner. I specifically like the term used by the author to reference higher-order thinking questions - productive questions. Productive questions force students to step beyond simple recall questions; students "must think and do, not merely remember". Productive questions should be a part of the formative assessment in every classroom. I highly recommend this article.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:38 PM

Experienced teachers know that asking questions can serve as a formative assessment of their student’s understandings, have children think on a higher level, and to develop an understanding that questions can build deeper understandings. This article describes how questions promote thinking and what research says about which questions work best. More importantly it guides teachers by provides them with ways to become a better questioner.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:56 PM

There is research which tells us that student leaning in science can deepen when they are asked questions that assess conceptual knowlege and pushing student tinking to higher levels. One part of the research talks about knowing just the right question to ask. The type of question determines the outcome. Teachers shoud try to make their questions productive. productive questions require that students think and not just recall a fact. This brief article is a good one for understanding the importance of questions in the science classroom, not to mention it is alwys nice for teacher to be able to explain why we do what do in the classroom. this article provides the background research.

Kathy Renfrew  (Barnet, VT)
Kathy Renfrew (Barnet, VT)

  • on Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:25 AM

This is a good short article describing how valuable the questioning skills of a teacher is in a science classroom. The kinds of questions teachers ask influence the nature of students’ thinking—asking the right type of question at the right time promotes the student’s higher level thinking skills. The authors give many examples of the types of questions to ask and when to ask them to maximize the learner’s thinking.

Kathy Sparrow  (Delray Beach, FL)
Kathy Sparrow (Delray Beach, FL)

  • on Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:01 PM

This is a very short article that teachers would benefit from reading. It talks about the importance of asking questions in science, and the different types of questions that teachers can ask. It is important for teachers to be aware of the different types of questions that can be asked in the classroom, and which questions work best. Good questions will encourage students to use higher order thinking instead of simple recall. This article also gives suggestions on how to become a better questioner. It was beneficial for me to read this article because it helped strengthen my confidence in asking meaningful questions in the classroom.

Kelsey Townsend
Kelsey Townsend

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