Generating questions: A key skill for the development of critical thinking

Students who are thinking critically in a science, engage in a four step process that begins with them collecting data and/or observations, evaluating the data/observations, using their evaluation to generate a hypothesis, which in turn must then be evaluated (Keller, 2008). This process is assumed to be cyclical until a hypothesis leads to a conclusion. A key skill identified for three of the four steps is the ability to question. Questioning is also a hallmark of self-directed, reflective learners (Chin, 2002). The literature has shown, however, that students have limited opportunities in class to raise (and learn from) their own questions and that students’ questions are usually infrequent, and tend to probe for basic information rather than a deeper understanding (Chin et. al., 2002, Dillon, 1988, Middlecamp et. al., 2005). The presenters are interested in creating activities that probe, hone and evaluate students’ questioning skills (Middlecamp et. al., 2000, Offerdahl et. al., 2014). The participants attending this presentation will be asked to experience a first day of class activity designed to probe the initial questioning skills of freshman chemistry students. It will be followed by how these students’ questioning skills were also assessed at the end of term. It is hoped an interactive discussion will be sparked regarding how to best use activities, like those presented, to strategically address the development of students questioning skills.