chapter  6
15 Pages


Since Socrates’s time, asking good questions has been regarded as a strong indicator of knowledge and intelligence. Does asking good questions merely indicate knowledge, or does it increase knowledge? Many introductory texts recommend writing questions as a study technique (e.g., Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, & Hilgard, 1987; Dworetzky, 1990; Hebb & Donderi, 1987). Denner and Rickards (1987) found that students who wrote questions as they studied a passage recalled more facts than those who read the same passage without writing questions. However, writing questions did not improve performance on conceptual test questions. Frase and Schwartz (1975) found that students tend to write factual rather than conceptual questions. They also found that the effect of writing questions was content specific: Question writers had higher scores on test items that were directly related to the questions that they had written. Foos (1989) suggested that writing questions improves students’ ability to recall facts because students’ multiple-choice questions usually require recalling facts. He hypothesized that writing essay questions would improve performance on essay tests, whereas writing multiple-choice questions would improve performance on multiple-choice tests. However, he found that those who wrote either type of question had significantly higher scores than the control group who did not write questions, whether one looked at performance on multiple-choice or essay tests. As Frase and Schwartz (1975) noted with respect to multiple-choice questions, Foos noted that students’ essay questions tended to focus on facts rather than concepts.