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Top Priority Skills - Asking Questions & Learning About Learning

I started my Physics course this Summer telling my students they are not allowed to say "I don't know," unless they can't read, listen to a recording, watch a video, or ask a question of someone more knowledgeable. When I was in school we did not have access to information like students do today. 
In my humble opinion, students need to bulk up on two things like body builders do using supplements. What are those two things students need to bulk up with? Asking quality questions and learning how they learn
Take for example, Google is an awesome resource, but if you ask the wrong question or use terms inappropriately, you will not get the answer you seek. Ask a bad question one gets a bad answer. Ask a wrong question one gets a wrong answer. Ask an incomplete question one may very well get an incomplete answer. Its that simple. Quality of questions is paramount and good questions come from meticulous vocabulary management. Therefore, students must become better question askers for academic, personal, and work related reason too.
Secondly, students have to literally study their personal style of learning how they learn. It is not the responsibility of any instructor or teacher to say everything just the way the student needs it said to them. That will not happen. Yet, teachers and instructors have a responsibility to present information in a way that many of their students will grasp the content or concepts. After that, students need to ask questions for clarification in their minds.
This world of vast knowledge awaits articulate learned question askers!!!!!!!
Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

Comments

You have hit the nail on the head.  I agree with your thoughts. It is refreshing to read the text.  I even learned a new work: meticulous - diligent, etc. Asking the right questions get the right responses. Good idea in theory.  Although, I was taught there is no wrong or bad question. The question is relative to the knowledge of the individual asking the question i believe...yet to gain knowledge you must either be able to read, listen or ask questions. Thanks for your insight in the matter.
I have found my academic soul mate.  (Ha ha ha)  Seriously, it seems as though my thoughts somehow ended up on your blog entry.  Thank you for validating my feelings/convictions.
 
To address Ralph W's comment from July 22....  He's right on about bad/wrong questions, but you, Avery, are also correct.  It's all in the semantics.  
 
I believe Ralph is referring to students having the freedom to ask any question about content that they do not understand.  In other words, "It's never wrong to ask a question," or "Just because other students understand and you do not, that doesn't mean your question is bad/wrong."  
 
Avery, I understand that you are referring to the articulation of the questions.  There is, indeed, a way to ask a question to get the answer you are seeking.  Formulating good questions is a learned skill, as you said.  Teachers, themselves, must first seek out training on how to do this well.  This way, the students can be guided through the process.  The following is an example.
 
I thought I was pretty good at asking probing questions after 18 years of teaching.  Boy, was I WRONG about that!  While working on my Master's Degree in 2008, I fortunate enough to be invited to join my Southern Illinois University professor and his graduate assistant in attending an assessment item-writing training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  This was an intense week-long study on the correct articulation of a question in order to receive a specific response.  Every participant found that he/she fell short, no matter how many years experience or how high of a level taught.  I came back to my classroom and found myself rewriting nearly every question on every assignment and assessment as I went along.  The next year, I instructed my sixth-grade students on how to ask questions to get the answers they seek.  After a few failed attempts, I found that it can be done in a way they can understand.  Here is the method I found to be successful....
 
Each week, in one class, the students were given an assignment which required them to write what they felt was a probing question and the topic just covered.  This question needed to be one that would require higher-order thinking skills in order to answer.  They turned this in along with their desired (detailed) answer on another sheet of paper.  As soon as they were turned in, I passed them out randomly, making sure no one had his/her own paper.  The students were then required to write down every possible way to answer the question, based on the way the question was worded.  This prompted debates and discussions that were beyond anything I imagined.  They learned so much about choosing your words carefully to get the answer you're looking for.  The best part is that I learned even more than I did in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (if that's possible).
 
Well said Lisa!! I love that class assignment in the last paragraph as an training activity. Sounds like you good some good classroom learning mileage from it too! Thanks for your gracious and informed input.
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