Identifying Questions to Investigate
A Research Question Should Spark Students' Ideas About the Answer
Namsoo Shin & Steven McGee
What is sparking ideas about the answer?
The wording of the research question needs to connect with students’ current level of understanding. This will help even the youngest students use ideas they already have about the topic. These ideas serve as good starting points for the investigation. As students progress through the investigation, these ideas should be challenged with the analyses they conduct. Researchers call this process activating prior knowledge. Students use their prior knowledge to make sense of new information and solve problems (Anderson, 1990; Machiels-Bongaerts & Schmidt, 1995). Activation of the prior knowledge occurs when students face new experience. They search long-term memory to find similar experiences and retrieve those experiences into short-term memory (Goss, 1999; Harris & Hodges, 1995; Cunningham, Moore, Cunningham, & Moore, 1995).
Why is sparking students’ ideas important?
How does a designer spark students’ ideas about the answer?
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