Study Skills

Study Skills

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Do All Questions Help You Learn

Julie Bugg and Mark McDaniel at Washington University in St. Louis set out to answer that question. They designed a study that would help determine if the Benefits of Question Self-Generation and Answering depend on the types of questions learners ask. They published their findings in the Journal of Educational Psychology.

In their study three groups of students read several paragraphs of text. Two groups were instructed to ask and answer their own questions as they read these paragraphs. Only, each group was asked to generate different types of questions.

One group was asked to generate detail questions. The other was asked to generate conceptual questions.

- Detail questions can be answered by referring to a detail or fact that could be found within a single sentence in the text. An example of a detail question was, "How many square miles in size is Antarctica's great ice cap-" The answer, "six million," could be found in one sentence.

- Conceptual questions can only be answered by integrating information from at least two different sentences. For example, "Give two reasons why it is impossible to create a map of the crevasses in Antarctica." To answer this question, participants had to combine two pieces of information.

Both groups were given examples of their question type and the opportunity to practice generating questions. The last group of students was asked to simply read the paragraphs twice.

After studying the paragraphs all students were asked to judge how well they would remember the information. Then they were all given the same test. This test contained both detail and conceptual questions.

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