Research

Why research?

Research reveals a striking gap between curiosity and questioning.

In everyday situations it is natural for us to talk about ‘curiosity’ and ‘questioning’ interchangeably: when we are curious, we ask questions, and a questioning child demonstrates curiosity. Yet, research shows up a striking gap between curiosity and questioning.

‘Curiosity’ is a basic drive that goes way back in our evolutionary history, to perhaps hundreds of millions of years ago. Human babies from two months of age show curiosity while they perceive and explore their environment. As they learn to talk, the pre-schoolers curiosity bursts forth into tens of thousands of questions they ask, every year.

As children grow up and go to school, the picture changes dramatically. Researchers search in vain for questions asked by students in classrooms. At the same time psychologists and neuroscientists are convinced that, despite appearances, curiosity persists through adolescence, adulthood and even old age, though perhaps taking on newer forms. Such disconnects between curiosity and questioning, placed together with Sawaliram's rich repositories of children's questions, give reasons for us to raise our own questions, and provide the motivation that drives our group’s research.

Our focus is on understanding the nature of children’s questions.

Children’s questions are a resource for teachers and researchers to learn about their motives and interests, their doubts and misunderstandings. Our focus is on understanding the nature of children’s questions when they are provided facilitative conditions and contexts that encourage questioning. We support participating teachers to create such conditions in their own classrooms. The open access database of Sawaliram may be queried online or made available to researchers for specific projects. Our larger goal is to find ways to encourage curiosity and questioning in children, and to translate our findings into an effective curricular and pedagogic program for the Indian school system.

Bibliography

Development of curiosity

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Psychology and neuroscience of curiosity

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Inquiry-based teaching and learning

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Chin, C., & Osborne, J. (2008). Students’ questions: a potential resource for teaching and learning of science. Studies in Science Education, 44, 1-39. doi: 10.1080/03057260701828101 [Read article]

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Kawalkar, A. (2020). Transacting inquiry in middle school science classrooms: A study exploring the nature of discourse and a spectrum of outcomes. [Synopsis] [Thesis]

Pedrosa de Jesus, H., Teixeira-Dias, J. J. C., & Watts, M. (2003). Questions of chemistry. International Journal of Science Education, 25(8), 1015–1034. doi: 10.1080/09500690305022 [Read article]

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Sezen-Barrie, A., Miller-Rushing, A., & Hufnagel, E. (2019). ‘It’s a gassy world’: starting with students’ wondering questions to inform climate change education. Environmental Education Research, doi: 10.1080/13504622.2019.1610158 [Read abstract]

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Analysis of questions

Baram-Tsabari, A., & Yarden, A. (2005). Characterizing children’s spontaneous interests in science and technology. International Journal of Science Education, 27(7), 803-826. doi:10.1080/09500690500038389 [Read article]

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Chakravarty, S., Srivastava, A., & Patil, K. (2020). Middle schoolers primed to reason counterfactually ask more interesting questions. In Mashood, K. K., and Sengupta, T. (Eds.). Proceedings of epiSTEME-8 Conference (Strand 2 - Cognitive and affective studies of STME) (pp. 139-147), Mumbai: Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education. [Read article]

Sengupta, D., Chandrika, D., Dey, B. K., & Ramadas, J. (2020). The conditions, contexts and character of children’s questions in an outreach program. In Mashood, K. K., and Sengupta, T. (Eds.). Proceedings of epiSTEME-8 Conference (Strand 3 - Language, Pedagogy and Curriculum in STME) (pp. 238-246), Mumbai: Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education. [Read article]

Vijaysimha, I. (2019). Teachers’ questions in the classroom. Voices of Teachers and Teacher Educators, 7(2), 1-12. [Read paper]

Sociocultural factors in curiosity

Clarke, P. (2001). Teaching and learning: The culture of pedagogy. New Delhi, India: Sage Publications. [About the book]

Kumar, K. (1989). Social character of learning. New Delhi, India: Sage Publications. [Read book]

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Sarangapani, P. (2003). Constructing School Knowledge: An Ethnography of Learning in an Indian Village. New Delhi, India: Sage Publications. [About the book]

Singh, G. (2020). Student Questioning in Student Talk: Understanding the process and its role in doing science. ResearchGate. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.33282.09928 [Read Thesis]

Singh, G., Shaikh, R., & Haydock, K. (2019). Understanding student questioning. Cultural Studies of Science Education,14(3), 643-697. doi: 10.1007/s11422-018-9866-0 [Read abstract]

Gender and curiosity

Baram-Tsabari, A., & Yarden, A. (2011). Quantifying the gender gap in science interests. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9(3), 523-550. doi: 10.1007/s10763-010-9194-7 [Read article]

Engelhard, G., & Monsaas, J. A. (1988). Grade level, gender, and school-related curiosity in urban elementary schools. The Journal of Educational Research, 82(1), 22-26. doi: 10.1080/00220671.1988.10885860 [Read abstract]

Jones, M. G., Howe, A., & Rua, M. J. (2000). Gender differences in students' experiences, interests, and attitudes toward science and scientists. Science Education, 84(2), 180-192. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-237X(200003)84:2<180::AID-SCE3>3.0.CO;2-X [Read abstract]

Stark, R., & Gray, D. (1999). Gender preferences in learning science. International Journal of Science Education, 21(6), 633-643, doi: 10.1080/095006999290480 [Read article]

Taber, K. S. (1991). Gender differences in science preferences on starting secondary school. Research in Science & Technological Education, 9(2), 245-251. doi: 10.1080/0263514910090210 [Read abstract]

Weinburgh, M. (1995). Gender differences in student attitudes toward science: a meta-analysis of the literature from 1970 to 1991. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32(4), 387-398. doi: 10.1002/tea.3660320407 [Read abstract]

History, philosophy and ethics of curiosity

Bunk, S. (2000). Curiosity and the scientific method. The Scientist. [Read article]

Sarukkai, S. (2009). Science and the ethics of curiosity. Current Science, 97(6), 756-767. [Read article]