Despite the fact that we now know that the asking of questions and the generation of self-explanations are critical if students are to learn anything more than isolated facts, school is oriented toward telling children answers and rewarding the repetition of answers, rather than rewarding them for good questions and allowing them to figure things out for themselves.
Dillon, for example, found that students ask information-seeking questions less than 1% of the time when they are called on in class. When students do ask questions, the questions are about how to behave in the classroom rather than requests for meaningful explanations (Good, Slavings, Harel, and Wood). They ask these questions because classroom discussions do not encourage better ones. It's not that they do no know what to ask about. For example, Graesser looked at college students in research methods courses and seventh grade students in algebra. He found that students, if given the opportunity, would identify deficits in their knowledge and ask questions that would serve to remedy those deficits. It's just that they don't get the opportunity. That's too bad. When students are encouraged to ask good questions, their ability to understand and remember material is enhanced (Palinscar and Brown, 1984).
Students Need To Explain Things to Themselves
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