The process of building up and correcting knowledge structures is driven by the questions we ask ourselves. Expectation failures are a primary source of questions. Such failures force us to ask ourselves questions like "What caused the failure?" and "How can I prevent the failure from occurring again?" But expectation failures are not the only times when we sit back and ask ourselves questions. Sometimes, we are faced with a new problem and need to develop a new plan. In such cases, we might proceed by asking ourselves "What old problems is this new problem like?" or "How can I break down this problem into simpler problems?" Other times, we puzzle over our experiences, asking questions such as, "What would have happened if I had behaved differently?" and "Why did X act as he did?" Still other times, we ask more mundane questions like "How do I get to 1243 Rose Avenue?" or "How much does a cup of coffee cost here?"
Though these questions are of different types and are generated in different ways, they share a common characteristic. Like all questions, they play a central role in learning. They point to holes in our memory structures that we wish to fill. They provide the starting point for the processes through which we integrate new information into memory, tie old information together in new ways, and correct our faulty generalizations. It is probably not too strong to say that until we ask a question, we are unable to integrate an answer into our memories. Further, the more questions we ask about an item, the more ways we index that item in our memories. Better indexing allows our memories to be more flexible. So the more questions we ask, the more easily we can recall the items that we think about.
Asking Questions to Build Knowledge
Where am I in the content of the book?