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14 - What Makes a Good Question? Towards an Epistemic Classification

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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Students’ questions play an important role in meaningful learning and scientific inquiry. They are a potential resource for both teaching and learning science. Despite the capacity of students’ questions for enhancing learning, much of this potential still remains untapped. The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to examine and review the existing research on students’ questions and to explore ways of advancing future work into this area. The chapter begins by highlighting the importance and role of students’ questions and the ways in which they have been categorized to argue that there are limitations to each of these. It then seeks to show, drawing on sets of classroom videos, that a schema based on the epistemic function of the question for constructing knowledge would suggest that there are really three categories of question – ontic questions, causal questions, and epistemic questions. The chapter then explores which programs of research offer promise for helping teachers to scaffold students at producing epistemic and better questions.

The Questioning Child
Insights from Psychology and Education
, pp. 281 - 300
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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