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ERIC Number: ED528504
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
Children's Question Asking and Curiosity: A Training Study
Jirout, Jamie; Klahr, David
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
A primary instructional objective of most early science programs is to foster children's scientific curiosity and question-asking skills (Jirout & Klahr, 2011). However, little is known about the relationship between curiosity, question-asking behavior, and general inquiry skills. While curiosity and question asking are invariably mentioned in national and state standards and in most preschool science curricula, they are rarely assessed (National Research Council, 1996; Worth, 2010). Instead, science assessments typically focus on domain-specific content, rather than on domain-general skills like question-asking. In this paper, the authors describe their work investigating the relationship between pre-school children's curiosity and question asking, and assess the effectiveness of training them to ask different types of questions. The authors investigate three research questions in this paper: (1) What is the relationship between curiosity and children's question asking ability?; (2) Can children learn to ask both identification and understanding questions through explicit training, and/or practice, and does this training transfer to other inquiry skills?; and (3) Does curiosity influence the effectiveness of training and practice on children's question asking ability? Participants were 75 students recruited from kindergarten and first grade classes at two suburban charter schools, and 31 preschool children from four suburban daycare centers. Participants' ethnic distribution was representative of the local population, and genders were equally represented. Positive relationships between children's curiosity and the range of question asking abilities measured were observed, suggesting that more curious children ask more questions, are better able to use questions to solve simple problems, and are better at discriminating between helpful and not helpful questions. Preliminary analyses suggest that children can benefit differently on these tasks with different training protocols and that training in specific skills can transfer to other related skills, and that curiosity level might influence the effectiveness of the interventions. Final analyses will be conducted after data collection is complete. There were limitations in using the same measures across age group, because older children were more likely to test-out of the study at pretest. Additionally, forms of some measures differed in difficulty level and could not be counterbalanced between pretest and posttests, so it is not possible to look at gain on those measures although they do provide pretest ability and posttest ability in order to investigate group differences. This study describes new approaches of looking at the domain general inquiry skills curiosity and question asking, which--despite being present in science standards and curricula goals--are often overlooked in assessments. Preliminary results suggest effective methods of developing children's question asking abilities, as well as for individualizing instruction for children differing in curiosity level. (Contains 1 table and 2 figures.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 1; Kindergarten
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)