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  • Sarah Shi Hui Wong

To Ask Better Questions, Teach (Wong, Lim, & Lim, 2023, Journal of Educational Psychology)




Reference

Wong, S. S. H., Lim, K. Y. L., & Lim, S. W. H. (2023). To ask better questions, teach: Learning-by-teaching enhances research question generation more than retrieval practice and concept-mapping. Journal of Educational Psychology, 115(6), 798–812. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000802


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Abstract

Asking good questions is vital for scientific learning and discovery, but improving this complex skill is a formidable challenge. Here, we show in two experiments (N = 152) that teaching others—learning-by-teaching—enhances one’s ability to generate higher-order research questions that create new knowledge, relative to two other well-established generative learning techniques: retrieval practice and concept-mapping. Learners who taught scientific expository texts across natural and social sciences topics by delivering video-recorded lectures outperformed their peers who practiced retrieval or constructed concept maps when tested on their ability to generate create-level research questions based on the texts (Experiment 1). This advantage held reliably even on a delayed test 48 hr later, and when all learners similarly received and responded to poststudy questions on the material (Experiment 2). Moreover, across both immediate and delayed tests, learning-by-teaching produced a recall benefit that rivaled that of the potent technique of retrieval practice. In contrast, despite recalling more than twice the study content that the concept-mapping group did, learners who practiced retrieval were unable to generate more create-level research questions based on that content. Three supplemental experiments (N = 168) further showed that retrieval practice consistently did not improve higher-order question generation over restudying, despite yielding superior long-term retention. Altogether, these findings reveal that simply possessing a wealth of factual knowledge is insufficient for generating higher-order research questions that create new knowledge. Rather, teaching others is a powerful strategy for producing deep and durable learning that enables research question generation. To ask better questions, teach.

Impact Statement

Scientific discovery often begins with the art of asking good questions. Here, we show that teaching others enhances students’ ability to generate higher-order research questions that create new knowledge. Across immediate and delayed tests, students who taught scientific material by delivering a video-recorded lecture successfully generated more create-level research questions based on the material, as compared to their peers who used well-established learning methods such as retrieval practice and concept-mapping. While we teach, we learn to ask better research questions.

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