Productive Questions to Foster Scientific Thinking

Types of questions to ask:

  • Attention – focusing

Attention focusing questions call attention to significant details. For example, “What is it doing?”, and “How does it feel?”

  • Measuring and Counting

Measuring and counting questions generate more precise information. For example, “How many/much/heavy?”.

  • Comparison

“How are they alike/different?”, is an example of a comparison question which fosters analysis and classification.

  • Action

“What if …. ?”, is usually how an action question would begin. Action questions generally encourage properties and events; exploration and also encourages predictions.

  • Problem – posing

Problem posing questions support planning and trying solutions to problems. An example of such a question would be, “How could we… ?”

  • Reasoning

Reasoning encourages reflection on experiences and construction of new ideas. “Why do you think?”, and “Can you explain that?” are a few examples.

How to ask questions?

Build a rapport with the child first. You can improve your questioning skills by:

  • Asking children how, when, where, what, or why. Keep the questions in simple, and direct sentence structures.
  • Using short sentences so that the children can comprehend easily.
  • Asking one question, and focusing on a single task, thought, and event – to prevent confusion.
  • Using questions prudently avoiding over reliance on them as teaching techniques.
  • Allow time for children to answer questions.
  • Responding to children’s answers with warmth and interest.

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