The Power of Questions

The Power of Questions

Successful people ask better questions and, as a result, they get better answers.A silhouette of a head filled with red, yellow and white question marks. — Anthony Robbins

Asking great questions can improve your reading, listeing, writing, and test-taking . You will also make better grades and enjoy learning.

Do you think this is too good to be true? Give it a try. At first, you will probably ask very basic questions. It takes time and effort to ask really great questions, but, with a little practice, you’ll be able to ask questions as good or better than those I’ve listed below. And the more you are really interested in the questions, the more you will learn and the more you will enjoy it.

Who questions much shall learn much, and retain much.    —  Francis Bacon

1. Questions can Improve your Reading.

Look over a chapter before you read it, list questions that come to mind. You might ask about terms you don’t understand. You see a section heading on the reasons we entered a war and can  turn that into a question.These are superficial questions. They don’t come out of your knowledge of the subject.

More valuable questions are more complex and come to you as you read. They reflect how much you already know. The deeper your questions, the more you learn from the reading.

Imagine you are taking Invertebrate Zoology. You know it’s about animals.  Superficial questions showing how little you know might include:  (Biology students will know how terrible these questions are.)
1. Are all animals invertebrates?
2. Are people invertebrates?
3. Are any plants invertebrates?

Better questions, those reflecting knowledge of the topic  might be:
1. “In addition to having and not having backbones, how are vertebrates and invertebrates different?
2.  “Do invertebrates have brains? If so, how are vertebrate and invertebrate brains different?
3.  “Are the invertebrates alive today the same as those that existed before the dinosaurs or have they continued to evolve?
4. Are invertebrates affected by pollution and global warming more or less that vertebrates are?
5. Is it possible to communicate with any of the invertebrates? Do they communicate among themselves.

Asking questions changes reading from a passive activity to an active process. It gets you involved with what you read and makes you think.  A student who asks questions while reading enjoys reading more, understands the material better and remembers it longer

In the reading section of the website, an old reading strategy, SQ3R has been expanded into a new and more powerful strategy. The second step, the Q, stands for Question.  Learn more at   Read with SQ3R+

Questions can improve your understanding of a lecture.

Look at the topic of a lecture and write down a list of questions on the subject. Already, you are getting involved and you will be more interested in the lecture. As you listen to a lecture, in addition to taking notes, write down new and more interesting questions that come to mind.

A student who asks questions before and during a lecture finds it easier to concentrate, finds the lecture more interesting, understands the information better, and remembers it longer

Questions can improve your writing.

If you have been asking questions while reading your textbook and while listening to lectures, you will have developed a list of questions you can use when asked to write a paper. Instead of trying to find a topic to write about, you should choose one of your best questions. Your really great questions already reflect your understanding of the subject.

Research on a question you are really interested in, is much more interesting. By the time you are ready to begin writing you will already be feeling a sense of accomplishment. You have managed to find either the answer to your question, or in some cases, a number of different opinions about the answer to your question.

These questions can also provide inspiration for actual research.

Generally, when students are writing about something that really interests them, they often do better research, write more clearly, make a better grade, and enjoy the assignment more.

4. Questions can help you prepare for tests.

Students who begin with questions, eventually find answers to many of their questions, and because they were more involved, they understand the answers better and remember them longer, needing less test preparation.  You might also decide to write a list a questions that you think might be on the test.

This is especially helpful with essay questions. Write 15-20 essay questions. Be sure you have enough information to answer all of them. Select 3-5 of these questions and practice writing a good answer. This almost always will increase your confidence and, even if the questions on the test were not on your list, you are more likely to do well on the test.

When you learn to write good questions, when you care about the questions you ask and try to find answers, you will discover that your skills in reading, listening, writing and test-taking thinking will all show improvement. And you will probably be enjoying it more.

Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.  — Robert Half

The Verbal Processing Strategies part of the website includes a page, Ask Questions . It discusses the different levels of questions:simple, good, and great and shares some interesting great questions.

This entry was posted in Prepare to Learn: Learning Skills, Reading Listening Notetaking, Thinking, Verbal Learning Strategies, Writing Speaking and Test Taking. Bookmark the permalink.

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