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Use of student mathematics questioning to promote active learning and metacognition
Student questions
Problem posing
Socratic dialogue
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Paper presented at the 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-12), Seoul, Korea, 8-15 July 2012
Asking questions is a critical step to advance one’s learning. This lecture will cover two specific functions of training students to ask their own questions in order to promote active learning and metacognition. The first function is for students to ask themselves mathematical questions so that they learn to think like mathematicians who often advance knowledge by asking new questions and trying to solve them. This is also called problem posing, an important component of the “look back” step in Polya’s problem solving framework. The second function is for students to ask their teachers learning questions during lessons when they do not understand certain parts of the lessons. Students who are hesitant to ask learning questions need to be inducted into the habit of doing so, and a simple tool called Student Question Cards (SQC) will be described to achieve this. Four types of mathematics-related questions are designed to cover meaning, method, reasoning, and applications and these questions are printed on laminated cards given to the students. The teacher will pause at specific parts of a lesson and require the students to select questions to ask to clarify their doubts. This reverses the typical roles of the teacher and the students during classroom interactions. Lessons learnt from a small study that trialed this approach with Grades 4 and 7 students in Singapore will be discussed. These two functions have the potentials to promote active learning of mathematics among school students through strengthening their metacognitive control. Teachers need to pay attention to the science, technology, and art of student questioning.
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