Volume 30 Issue 10 - October 7, 2016 PDF
Counter
Online Student-Generated Questions: Reversing the Downward Trend in Education and Promoting 21st Century Skills for Learners
Institute of Education, National Cheng Kung University
Font Enlarge
【Ta-You Wu Memorial Award】Special Issue

Under the premise of examination-driven education, performing well at tests and being accepted to top-tier universities are perceived as impetus for and the meaning of learning by many in the Asia-Pacific region. With such a mindset, knowledge retention (rather than knowledge creation, construction and re-construction) is being valued, convergent answers to questions and the learning of ‘what’ (rather than divergent answers and the learning of ‘why’ and ‘how’) are frequently targeted, and the purpose of assessment is gradually downgraded to teachers grading student performance for placement (rather than providing meaningful, constructive information to students for further learning and individual growth). All in all, this moves away from what quality education entails and the essence of learning — mastering 21st century skills and harboring worthwhile affects for self-actualizing and life preparation.

Feeling the need to change, as an educational researcher, I dare to offer alternative perspectives and achievable avenues, hoping that traditional epistemological views of learning and knowledge can be challenged for more generative learning and ultimate human growth. To this end, I devoted myself to promoting and building up the theoretical and empirical bases of ‘student-generated questions’ for the past ten years. In view of the affordances of networked technology and the essentiality of providing timely support during the process of learning, a customizable online learning system with various scaffolding designs (named Question-Authoring and Reasoning Knowledge System, QuARKS) was constructed to support students authoring questions and activities/tasks to promote 21st century skills and affects.

Student-generated questions and QuARKS are designed in ways to support and fit various educational scenarios, activities and events. Simply put, this approach aims to provide an opportunity/space for learners to reflect on exposed learning experiences regarding self-deemed worthwhile learning moments or items of knowledge, and then construct some items or design some tasks for self- or peer-assessment. On the other hand, in terms of system functions, by interlocking question-authoring, peer-assessing, peer-viewing and online practice, accompanied by customizability and various scaffolding designs, essential 21st century skills and affects, including problem-posing and -solving, self- and social-knowledge construction, self-monitoring and self-regulated learning, communication and social learning, peer-assisted learning and support, and creative and critical thinking skills, are mobilized and cultivated. The core idea of student-generated questions with the online space developed in this work (i.e., QuARKS), is that individual learners can be empowered and their knowledge can be built up, integrated and extended, both within and outward, to have synergistic effects, a process analogical to how substances are formed in the physical world — growing from the smallest particle, quarks.

Through more than ten years of research work, luckily, with the assistance of a group of devoted and hard-headed research assistants by my side, I have helped to strengthen the empirical bases of the effects ‘of’ student-generated questions in various disciplines, from elementary schools to post-graduate levels. What is more, ways and suggestions to further promote the effects ‘for’ student-generated questions and associated online space designs are proposed in this work, each with its sound theoretical foundations and empirical evidence.

While the conceptual framework and architecture I proposed for systems supporting student-generated questions activities is being adopted widely, QuARKS has been integrated extensively in classrooms, and academic networks encompassing researchers from computer science, artificial intelligence, e-learning, test theory and modeling, and data-mining have been successfully formed through years of my co-organizing workshops with international scholars in the Asia-Pacific region. I still hope that I can continue to contribute to society by inviting and engaging more students in student-generated questions activities, so that learners can savor the fulfillment, happiness and self-value that learning, in essence, should bring about.
< Previous
Next >
Copyright National Cheng Kung University