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7 - Developmental Changes in Question-Asking

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 January 2020

Lucas Payne Butler
University of Maryland, College Park
Samuel Ronfard
University of Toronto Mississauga
Kathleen H. Corriveau
Boston University
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Asking questions is a powerful learning tool that children take full advantage of, as they are well-known to be prolific and determined question-askers. But do children ask good questions? In this chapter, we review and discuss qualitative and quantitative studies to trace the developmental trajectory of children’s question–asking strategies, focusing on their effectiveness and adaptiveness. Previous research has so far established three milestones: children’s question–asking abilities evolve from being able to identify effective questions, but not being able to spontaneously generate them at the age of five, to beginning to generate effective questions from scratch at age seven, to implementing efficient and adaptive question–asking strategies by the age of ten, echoing adult–level patterns of performance. We discuss how the cognitive and environmental factors driving these developmental changes still remain unclear, and how taking a multidisciplinary approach might be necessary to fill these gaps. We argue that the results from research on question-asking have the potential to inform educational policies, and to help design targeted training interventions and educational curricula that exploit the early emergence of these skills and support their further development, providing children with a toolbox of strategies and concepts they can use to effectively navigate the world.

The Questioning Child
Insights from Psychology and Education
, pp. 118 - 143
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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