Questions play a critical role through a Challenge Based Learning experience. We assume that all learners naturally understand how to ask good questions, and the purpose of different types of questions, but this often not the case.
Our ability to ask lots of questions from multiple perspectives is often hampered by:
The problems will initially show up during the Essential Questioning step and with the Guiding Questions. Spending time early discussing and practicing different types of questioning will pay dividends throughout the process. Challenge Based Learning needs both “over the surface” and “under the surface” questions.
Over the surface questions typically include when, what, where, how and who. They provide relevant background but are usually easily answerable and only provide a “surface” level exploration of the subject matter.
Under the surface questions include why, what if, how come, should, would and could. These questions force us to dig deeper and understand underlying motivations, philosophies, and ideas.
“How” questions are interesting in that they can be both over and under the surface. Early in the Challenge Based Learning Process one needs to be particularly wary of how questions because they will accelerate the process towards solutions. As in – How do we solve this problem? An important question, but only when asked after the Investigation phase.
Who is asking the question can be equally as important. By having a diverse group identifying Guiding Questions the breadth and depth of the experience will grow. The Learners can have people outside the group ask questions or take on the persona of others and ask questions (e.g. What questions would a physician, lawyers, politician, etc. ask?
Once all of the Learners understand the value of the different types of questions it is easier to push for deeper thinking during the Guiding Question phases.
There are valuable resources for learning how to question are available, but most are teacher or adult focused – remember that the goal is to make all of the Learners masters at asking questions. great questioning skills allow individuals to take charge of their learning.