Source: KQED Mindshift, May 2013
When asked why he became a scientist, Nobel Laureate Isidor Rabi attributed his success to his mother. Every day, she would ask him the same question about his school day: “Did you ask a good question today?”
“Asking good questions – made me become a scientist!” Rabi said.
Questions are critical, and how to manage and navigate a good question requires practice. “Coming up with the right question involves vigorously thinking through the problem, investigating it from various angles, turning closed questions into open-ended ones and prioritizing which are the most important questions to get at the heart of the matter,” say authors Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana in their book, Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions.
The question needs to be open ended, elastic and invite multiple interpretations. Learning outcomes based on the question need to be defined and articulated, and experiences to achieve those outcomes need to be created with student engagement in mind. Engagement alone is not enough. But engagement matched with outcomes around a carefully worded question propels student learning.