There are various reasons for developing students' skills in creating and asking questions. For example, to better understand the details of a problem, it can be helpful for students to ask relevant questions about that problem to:
- investigate a situation
- interrogate data.
Understanding this strategy
To develop students' skills in asking questions in mathematics, the teacher can plan activities where students have to ask questions to make sense of some data or a problem, or decide on an investigation to undertake.
- Identify data or situations which can be used to prompt student questions.
- Ask students to identify questions that they have about the data and record some questions on the board.
- Ask students to identify one major question.
- For each major question, students generate sub-questions which could be asked to help to answer the major question.
Helping students to breakdown a question into manageable parts can assist in answering large questions in an investigation.
- The teacher may model asking questions about mathematics. When doing this, the teacher can talk out their thinking and reasoning, to demonstrate to students how and why questions and sub-questions are asked.
For example, the teacher can explicitly discuss the use of questions to clarify a situation or demonstrate how new questions can point towards areas of further investigation.
Example of using question posing
The following example shows how Year 7 students can generate questions to create a report on weather in capital cities.
Investigate the weather in three capital cities in Australia and report on the different weather in each place.
Teacher asks students to identify questions that might be useful to answer in order to comment on weather in different cities, and record some of these on the board. Teachers can support questioning by asking students,
- "What questions would you like to answer?"
- "What questions can you answer to help to carry out your investigation?"
Students identify major questions to answer. For example:
- When is the best time for a holiday in Queensland?
- Which city has the best weather for a holiday in March?
Students identify sub-questions they can investigate. Teachers can support questioning by asking students:
- "To answer your major question, what do you need to find out?"
- "Write some questions that you can answer to help you to carry out your investigation".
Teacher think aloud
If students are unable to generate questions or find answers, the teacher might think aloud the following questions:
- Where can you find the data needed to investigate weather?
- What aspect of weather are you interested in?
- What data is going to help you to represent the weather in the capital cities?
- What is the average daily temperature in summer for each city?
- How many rainy days are there each year from 2015-2019?
- What is the average temperature each month from 2015-2019? What does this look like on a graph? What does the graph show?
- What calculations are going to be helpful to investigate weather?
Curriculum link for the example: