Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Systematic Review of Research on Questioning as a High-Level Cognitive Strategy

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Systematic Review of Research on Questioning as a High-Level Cognitive Strategy

Article excerpt


Given the significance of questioning as a high-level cognitive strategy in language teaching and learning in the literature on TEFL as well as in education in general, this study sought to make a systematic review of research studies conducted in the span of the last three decades on the issue of questioning across different disciplines with a special focus on second or foreign language teaching and learning. It encompasses the questioning behavior of both teachers and learners. In the first phase of the study, it reviews and synthesizes the findings of 60 studies conducted on questioning in education since 1974. It also illustrates the impact of different questioning patterns on various types of learning and literacy areas. In the second phase of the study, an in-depth review is made of 40 studies between 2000 and 2014 examining the role of questioning in different academic fields and various educational fields. The findings of the in-depth review reveal the indispensable role of teacher and student questioning in facilitating critical thinking, writing ability, reading comprehension, subject matter learning, metacognitive skills, and scaffolding learning process. Finally, the implications and applications of the research findings are mentioned along with suggestions for further research.

Keywords: high-level cognitive strategies, EFL learners, questioning, critical thinking

1. Introduction

There is no doubt that raising questions is an art which requires cultivated and practiced knowledge (Cavanaugh and Warwick, 2001). Asking questions is ''one of the fundamental ways by which the teacher stimulates student thinking (Aschner, 1961) and posing questions pertinent to a specific scope of knowledge will facilitate learning process (Nelson-LeGall & Glor-Scheib, 1985; Newman, 1992). In the field of language learning and teaching, questioning, as a teaching and learning strategy, is of immense importance and is well documented (Almeida, 2010; Chin & Osborne, 2008; Graesser & Olde, 2003; Chin, 2007; Roth, 1996). The students' level of engagement in the process of learning largely depends on the questions formulated by the teachers in the classroom that prompt and guide thinking processes (Wilen, 1991) and on the questions generated by students themselves in the process of learning and teaching (Almedia, 2010, 2012). Indeed, there is a developing focus among researchers upon the realization of questioning strategies as an indispensable element in developing, expanding, and challenging students' thinking (Klem & Connell, 2004; Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001, Miciano, 2004).

Additionally, many researchers have pointed that learning and comprehension levels will develop when students are instructed to raise effective questions (Palincsar & Brown, 1984; Craig et al., 2000; King, 1992, 1994; Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996). This view is in line with the Construction-Integration Model of text comprehension (Kintsch, 1998; Kintsch & Welsch, 1991; Otero & Kintsch, 1992) which explains the relationship between learning, comprehension, and question generation. According to this model, comprehension occurs during a two-step process. The first phase is construction, during which concepts are activated in a shape of network of the syntactic, semantic, and world knowledge of the learner. The second step is integration. In the integration phase, the links between concepts are strengthened and improved by other similar concepts, whereas dissimilar concepts lose weight in the network. During this process, gradually, the mental representation of the concepts will appear. More importantly, researchers working in the field of text comprehension draw on the role of the deep-level reasoning questions in activating mental models and concepts which in turn play a vital role in regulating comprehension. According to Craig, Sullins, Witherspoon and Gholson (2006), "when content is preceded by deep-level reasoning questions, mental models are activated which play an important role in regulating comprehension" (p. …

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