University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 7007-7013
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
All our knowledge results from questions, which is another way of saying that question-asking is our most important intellectual tool.
(N. Postman, 1979, p.140)

Research indicates that questioning is one of the most popular teaching methods, and that teachers spend about from thirty-five to fifty percent of their instructional time asking questions (Graesser and Person, 1994). In fact, the traditional concept of learning is that it takes place when the teacher asks the questions and the students can answer them. However, the reality is that learning does not occur until learners can raise their own questions. In reality, students’ questions play an essential role in meaningful learning.

Graesser and Person (1994) stated that teachers typically ask 96 percent of the questions in a classroom environment. Nevertheless, Morgan and Saxton (2006) emphasise that the key to good questioning is not quantity, but quality. Effective questioning demands active listening, thoughtful answers and time to think out a response (wait-time).

Even if the value of students’ questions has been emphasised by several authors (e.g. Cuccio-Schirripa and Steiner, 2000), numerous studies (e.g. Dillon, 1988; Graesser and Person, 1994) underlie the fact that usually students ask a small number of questions, and that these are typically fact-based questions.

Departing from the reality described above, the present paper focuses on highlighting the importance and the role of both the teacher’s and the students’ questions in the construction of knowledge, referring to specific topics such as: questions' functions, questions' taxonomies, wait-time, and ways of enhancing a quality questioning.

Cuccio-Schirripa, S. and Steiner, H. E. (2000). Enhancement and analysis of science question level for middle school students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37, 210-224.
Dillon, J. T. (1988). The remedial status of student questioning. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 20, 197-210.
Graesser, A. C. and Person, N. K. (1994). Question asking during tutoring. American Educational Research Journal, 31, 104-137.
Morgan, N. and Saxton, J. (2006). Asking Better Questions (2nd ed.), Ontario: Pembroke Publishers Limited.
Postman, N. (1979). Teaching as a Conserving Activity. New York: Dell.
classroom discourse, questioning, students questioning, teacher questioning.