Students’ questioning in a primary science classroom
Date of Award
Master of Education (M. Ed.)
Institute for Educational Development, Karachi
Asking questions is central to intellectual effort. The questions which one asks play a significant role in bridging the gap between the known and unknown. Teachers in Pakistan use questioning as a major strategy to teach science in the primary classroom. However, most of these questions check the memory of their students, keep them on task, or check the instructions the teachers have given usually for class work or homework. Science teachers are the sole owners of questions and therefore students in Pakistani science classrooms have been positioned as the people who answer questions which have been posed by the teacher. The growing dominance of active learning environments in the developed world has done much to challenge this positioning but in our context, still, there remains an immensely strong institutional presumption that being a successful student is tested by the capacity to answer questions. This study was conducted to try out different strategies a teacher can use in a primary science classroom to promote students' questioning skills. The study revealed that a variety of 'hands-on, minds- on' activities with an appropriate level of difficulty can help to promote students' questioning skills. A gradual increase in the level of difficulty of stimulating activities, a friendly environment and acceptance of students' ideas helped them to overcome their fear of 'being wrong' and instead nurtured their innate curiosity. This resulted in the students' ability to create their own learning strategies which were all used as part of the science lesson. Several challenges to this approach in the learning of science were identified. They include completion of syllabus, time allocated for science lessons, product oriented assessment, school culture, individual accountability in the classroom and creativity on the part of teacher. Growing evidence from existing literature and my study seem to suggest that, primary science teachers in Pakistan need to review their role in the teaching/learning process. Any attempt to change the educational policy regarding the teaching of science would be useless if the implementers (teachers) of the policy do not realise their changing role. They are on the cutting edge and responsible for promoting students' curiosity, to help students to be autonomous learners.
Muzaffar, S. (1999). Students’ questioning in a primary science classroom (Unpublished master's dissertation). Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan.