question based learning

Question based learning: importance and role for children's education


21 July, 2021

Questions based learning is a powerful tool in all segments of the educational process. A good question clarifies, reveals, and generates reflection.

Questions based learning is a powerful tool in all segments of the educational process. A good question clarifies, reveals, and generates reflection. Well formulated questions greatly activate childrens’ intellectual capacities. It causes thinking, reflection, reconsidering, and maybe even a kind of hope. There are moments when a complete silence settles over the classroom, interrupted only by the teacher's monologue. At other times, the classroom is animated by children's voices asking all sorts of questions, exchanging ideas, and showing curiosity. Where does the learning take place? In a flexible and open environment or in an environment where curiosity is limited? Let's discover and point out together the benefits and the importance of question based learning which would certainly lead towards thinking process activation and development of the critical one. 

Question based learning is more than just asking students what they want to know about a topic. It's about triggering curiosity. And activating a learner's curiosity is a more important and complex objective than simply passing on information. Two of the most common functions of a question are to assess knowledge (evaluative) or cause thinking (rhetorical). This can be further drilled down into (a nearly infinite number of) subcategories.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, encouraging students to embrace their curiosity is an important part of education. Curiosity is key to learning. Studies show that, when we're curious about a subject, we are much more likely to remember information we learned about that subject. A neurological study has shown that curiosity makes our brains more receptive to learning, and that as we learn, we enjoy the sensation of learning. It's no secret that curiosity makes learning more effective and enjoyable. Curious students not only ask questions, but also actively seek out the answers.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its reason for existing." -- Albert Einstein

Despite its complexity, question based learning can be easier on teachers, partly because it transfers some responsibilities from teachers to students, but mostly because releasing authority engages students. When approached innovatively, question-based learning generates excitement among students that neurons start firing, curiosity is triggered and they can't wait to become experts at answering their questions.

Question based learning builds children's autonomy, fosters analytical and logical thinking skills and develops their problem-solving abilities. This learning technique nurtures pupils' interests, passions and talents. It empowers children's voices and honors their choices, while stimulating their motivation and engagement. There is nothing more rewarding than fostering a constructive and inspiring classroom, planting courage and perseverance, and training the spirit of growth and development in formal and informal inquiry skills. In all aspects of life after school, individuals are often required to work in groups that require fundamental skills such as listening, cooperation, negotiation and communication. Question-based learning contributes to social-emotional development, teaching children to work together effectively to complete a task. It allows them to make what they learn meaningful and develop strategies they can use to solve problems in the future.

How can we apply question based learning 

Students have a lot of questions and they are hungry to answer. As teachers, we should develop a problem statement that requires them to pitch their question using a constructed response, further inquiry, and citation.

Ask students to reflect on what worked about the process and what didn’t. Reflection is key. And it isn’t just about asking them to think back on their opinion of the topic. It’s about reflecting on the process itself. 

Encourage students to present their ideas. Many can understand the content, but few can communicate it. Presenting ideas drawn from what they have learned in class can be a valuable exercise in further consolidating information. Our brains develop when we are required to think. And what better way to get kids to think than to ask good questions? Every subject taught at school is full of opportunities to ask questions. Imagine a class presenting their ideas and findings on a topic. The multitude of variations, perspectives, and opinions gives children the opportunity to study the topic in-depth, sparking their desire to know even more. In terms of student outcomes, the power of the questions will forever leave their mark on their lives. The more a pupil is given the opportunity to feel mastery of a subject, however small the concept, the more they will want that feeling later in life.

Question based learning pushes students beyond simply learning to memorize or remember, and toward applying knowledge in new domains, drawing connections among ideas, evaluating or challenging ideas, and additionally creating something completely new. Question based learning also effectively develops important soft skills that are key for student success in the 21st Century, such as creative problem solving, critical thinking, logical thinking, teamwork, and even written and oral communication.

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