What's in a domain: Understanding how students approach questioning in history and science

Lindsay Blau Portnoy, Fordham University


During their education, students are presented with information across a variety of academic domains. How students ask questions as they learn has implications for understanding, retention, and problem solving. The current research investigates the influence of age and prior knowledge on the ways students approach questioning across history and science content. In two studies, students read history and science passages and then generated questions they would ask to make sense of the content. Nine categories of questions were identified to discern patterns of inquiry across both domains. Results indicate that while age and prior knowledge may play a role in the way students ask questions by domain there are persistent main effects of domain across both studies. Specifically, across both studies students ask questions regarding the purpose or function of ideas in science passages, whereas history passage are more regularly met with questions for supplemental information to complete a student's understanding. In contrast to extant research on developmental status or experience within a content area, current work suggests that domains themselves hold unique properties, which may influence how students approach questioning across domains.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Social studies education|Developmental psychology|Science education

Recommended Citation

Portnoy, Lindsay Blau, "What's in a domain: Understanding how students approach questioning in history and science" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3552059.