Great questions are hard to write but so essential to the learning process. They should never all be “search, find, and repeat” type questions where students just hunt the paper for a particular word and spit it back out on a blank on a worksheet! To get my students to think, I usually ask variations of the examples below. They really force my students to think about their answers because the answers are often not written explicitly in the text. Are they challenging? Yes and I suggest that teachers work through the reading and the questions together with their students.
Here is how I write the questions that accompany my adaptations:
1. The first few questions I include are simpler “who?” “what?” “where?” type questions that help to build the reader’s confidence. If I start my question set with tough deeper thinking questions like “how would you design the next experiment the scientist would do?” students tend to freeze up and decide they can’t do the question set at all!
Examples of these questions:
Where was this study performed?
Who performed this study?
How many authors are there for this scientific paper?
What organism did they study?
How long did this experiment take?
What is their hypothesis?
2. Next, I like to include experiment design and data analysis questions. These questions really focus on understanding the experiment and why and how it was performed. These questions usually have very specific answers that students can figure out from the reading, data tables, and graphs.
Why did the scientists use that particular control group? Explain your answer.
Does data point XYZ support the hypothesis? Explain your answer.
Calculate the average of data points A-H. How does this compare to the average of data points T-Z?
What sources of error do the scientists mention?
What constraints hindered the study?
What ethical guidelines did the study have to follow?
3. Lastly, I ask for further thoughts about the experiment’s conclusions and future experiments the scientist could do. I often leave out some of the author’s conclusions in my adaptation, so that my students can come up with their own conclusions from the data.
Why do you think the scientists did NOT perform a particular logical experiment? Explain your answer.
How convincing was the data? Did they strongly support the hypothesis? Explain your answer.
Did the scientists show that variable A correlates with variable B or did they show that variable A CAUSES variable B? What is the difference?
If the experiment only shows that A correlates with B, what experiment could you design to show that A CAUSES B?
If you had unlimited lab resources and time, what experiment would you do next to further test the hypothesis?
What types of questions do you like to use to encourage deeper thinking?
This ends my Adapting Journal Articles for High School Students. You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to learn how to find a journal, find an article, and write your own adaptation.