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1 - The Darndest Questions: The Role of Questioning in Children’s Learning

Sat, March 23, 4:15 to 5:45pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 3, Room 331

Session Type: Paper Symposium

Integrative Statement

Children actively construct their knowledge through interactions with others (Piaget, 1952; Vygotsky, 1978). Specifically, research in cognitive development and educational psychology suggests that question asking is important for learning (Chouinard, 2007; Lott, 1983). Indeed, questioning boosts academic outcomes (Redfield & Rousseau, 1981; Von Secker, 2002), supports language learning (Blewitt, Rump, Shealy, & Cook, 2009; Sénéchal, 1997), and leads to general content learning (Haden, Cohen, Uttal, & Marcus, 2015). Child-directed questions as well as children’s own questions are crucial mechanisms by which children can explore and learn (Chouinard, 2007; Wise & Okey, 1983).

The papers presented in this symposium examine the role of questioning in children’s learning including different perspectives, contexts, and methods. The first paper experimentally tests the effect of questioning on young children’s mathematics learning in a guided play setting and suggests that question asking is important in promoting complex numerical abilities like arithmetic. The second paper compares fathers’ and mothers’ questions to children in a museum setting and suggests that wh-questions, particularly from fathers, promote preschool-aged children’s scientific talk. The third paper examines preschoolers’ naturally occurring questions in the classroom. Results show that children are more likely to direct questions, especially with the intention of learning, to adults than to other children or themselves. Lastly, the fourth paper tests the impact of curiosity-promoting language on performance during a question-asking task, and reveals a significant effect of the instructional language on the frequency of questioning by boys. All four papers explore the role of question asking in children’s learning.

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