The Priority of the Question: Focus Questions for Sustained Reasoning in Science

Aug. 15, 2010

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Volume 21, No. 5, p. 495-511. (August 2010).

Science education standards place a high priority on promoting the skills and dispositions associated with inquiry at all levels of learning.
Yet, the questions teachers employ to foster sustained reasoning are most likely borrowed from a textbook, lab manual, or worksheet. Such generic questions generated for a mass audience, lack authenticity and contextual cues that allow learners to immediately appreciate a question’s relevance. Teacher queries intended to motivate, guide, and foster learning through inquiry are known as focus questions.

This theoretical paper draws upon science education research to present a typology and conceptual framework intended to support science teacher educators as they identify, develop, and evaluate focus questions with their students.

Updated: Dec. 21, 2010