The Role and Value of Questioning

Understanding the role and value of questioning is important for a wide range of personal, social and economic needs. Creating and identifying the questions that lead to the solution of real problems provides significant personal growth. Within organizational teams it leads to job satisfaction and improved morale. Equally impressive is the role of questioning in growing the economic value of a team, teams which scale from small groups to national and global businesses and institutions. In recent years, basic measurements of our global capacity to question are emerging from the scores of online search engines, a baseline of some 22.4 billion searches in April, 2008 (Comscore, 2008). Other more advanced systems of questioning are not yet included in this metric.

To question is the ability to imagine or see what is missing. How does one learn to see what is not there and then recognize that a problem exists in reaching a goal? Problem finding requires mixing observational sensitivity with creativity.  Problem finding needs partnership with problem sharing systems to enable others to build on the value created by this effort. This CROP branch of problem processing seeks and values the Still Unsolved Problem (SUP). It identifies many options for what can be called an Information Retention and Discovery Management system. Though many of these current question and answer designs have the accent backwards, placing more emphasis on the answers than questions, these sites can still be used to accent the role of questions in a class, team or organization. Online question databases are but one way to value and share questions. More personal WonderWebs or WonderWalls implemented in paper are equally effective, though by their nature highly localized.

A problem can be seen as a goal not met. Other CROP branches provide resources for shaping the problem and solving the problem once identified. On the Internet, the above digital QnA systems are sometimes referred to as knowledge markets a part of the larger design of knowledge ecosystems of which CROP is one model that can be applied to any knowledge organization. Questions sets by discipline or content area including science and sociology are also emerging.

Several businesses measure the growth of Internet activity in ways that enable measurement of national and global questioning activity: Comscore, aQuantive, The Nielsen Company, and Omniture.

The Personal & Intellectual Value of Questioning

Though a questioning or reflective attitude can lead from questions to solutions for the constantly emerging problems in all situations, it also essential in a variety of intelletual strategies.

Questioning plays amajor role in reading, in comprehending or understanding the information being thought about or considered. Long standing strategies include K-W-L (know, want to know, learned) charts and reading journals have proved valuable for readers of all ages and abilities (Beck, 1997; Davey & McBride, 1986; Gammel, 2006; Ogle, 1986). Reciprocal teaching fostered four specific strategies (predicting, questioning, clarifying and summarizing) (Palinesar & Brown, 1984). Raphael & Wonnacott promoted QAR (question and answer relationships) (1985).

More recent thinking sought a closer connection between theory and practice. This included DCT (Dual Coding Theory) which builds on "embodied cognition", theorizing that the brain encodes information both in language and in the body's physical experiences through its five senses (Wilson, 2002). The theory of embodied cognition contends that "cognitive processes develop when a tightly coupled system emerges from real-time, goal-directed interactions between organisms and their environment" (Cowart, 2006). Questioning that builds on input reflectiveness and social collaborativeness with online and group (team, organization, classroom) based shared questioning systems provides a powerful approach to enhancing cognition.

Metacognition variables such as motivation, interest and self-efficacy also play a major role in understanding (Baker, 2008). Such motivation carries over into a variety of learning activities. For example, Eisenberg (2008) notes that there are "three contexts for successful IL (Information Literacy) learning and teaching: (i) the
information process itself, (ii) technology in context, and (iii) implementation through real needs in real situations." Authentic learning through working on the authentic questions from room based WonderWeb activity and online QnA systems have provided a wide variety of ways to address such metacognition needs. However, there is little evidence that classrooms are using question centered systems to help build such metacognition.

The Social Value of Questioning

Two areas of value have resonance here. The first is the importance of divergent thinking which means the why questions that strike at potentially mistaken assumptions. The second is the nature of group formation around areas of interest, building communities from research affinities. As those pursuing questions recognize that the same name appears in communications over and over again, other means of dialog are then extended to broaden and deepen lines of communication; such persistent dialog leagues to deeper levels of community formation. Yedda is one example of a QnA system that actively promotes that value, though this is inherent to all QnA systems that reveal the names of those contributing questions and responses.

The Economic Value of Questioning

The value of questioning also has a significant economic role. The entrepreneurial perspective that grows organizations, businesses, economies and lives through the creation of new services, jobs and organizations is highly dependent on combining skills and knowledge of questioning with creative and critical thinking (Haynie & Shepherd, 2007; Schramm, 2004). Online collaborative questioning systems provide a fertile ground for finding patterns of questions that would suggest sufficient need to improve and sustain existing organizations as well as support the creation of new organizations, whether non-profit or profit. Every business in existence came into being as a solution to a problem or need. Businesses that sustain themselves over time seek the questions of their clients and the environment and evolve or transform to meet them. Building systems for customers to ask questions and to answer each other's questions, provides an enormous source of ideas for new product development and for product exit strategies as product relevance is lost in changing environments. The environmental questioning phase is a critical stage of entrepreneurship process, e.g., the flatworld processor.


For more ideas, search for "reflective thinking" , "questioning techniques" or "discovery learning" in the ERIC database of educational literature.



Published 7/6/2008  |  Updated July 13, 2009 | Page author: Houghton