Questions, Questions

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Science  16 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5951, pp. 340
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_340a

Question-asking is a fundamental element of practicing science; however, the teaching of question-asking skills is often overlooked in science education. Practicing scientists appreciate the value of asking questions, but do students in science classes? Keeling et al. asked undergraduate students in a senior-level cell biology class to review background material, detailed protocols, types of data to be recorded, and guidelines for analysis, before their laboratory session. After reflecting on the scientific process behind upcoming experiments, students were asked to write at least three questions about the science to be studied. As might be hoped, students' questioning ability, as assessed by the quality and relevance of questions generated, improved over time. Although repeated practice at writing questions did lead to improvement, “learning by doing” may not be enough, and specifically teaching question-asking skills could usefully be paired with explicit guidance and discussion.

Life Sci. Edu. 8 131 (2009).

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