TeachingLD provides answers to common questions about teaching students with learning disabilities. We solicit questions (submit your own question), select those that are of general interest, and ask professionals with expertise about those specific aspects of learning disabilities to summarize—in practical terms—the research relevant to those questions. The Editors of TeachingLD have been supported by the un-compensated assistance of people with substantial knowledge and experience in preparing answers.
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Q:It seems like every time I turn around these days, people are talking about self-questioning strategies for reading comprehension. Are there really different ones, and how how do they work? Can you tell me more about self-questioning and how I might teach self-questioning to my middle schoolers?
—Mark, inclusion teacher, San Bernadino
Thanks for your question. For an answer, we turned to Professor Sheri Berkeley at George Mason University. Dr. Berkeley has studied comprehension methods in middle school classrooms and is currently working on a project using self-questioning. Thanks to her for helping us with this!
—Peggy & JohnL, co-editors
A: Mark, yours is a question I hear all the time. Self-questioning is a rather broad term so I'll try to focus it first and then give you some information about how to use it in the classroom.
What is self-questioning?
Self-questioning is simply a process in which students ask and answer questions while reading. Strategically asking and answering questions while reading helps students with difficulties engage with text in ways that good readers do naturally, thus “improving their active processing of text and their comprehension” (National Reading Panel, 2003, p.51).
All self-questioning strategies generally help students understand more of what they read; however, it is important to note that self-questioning strategies can serve a variety of purposes. For example, one questioning strategy might help prompt students to consider background knowledge before reading, while another might promote students’ self-monitoring of understanding while reading, and yet another might remind students to summarize what they have read after reading. In addition, self-questioning can be incorporated into other comprehension strategies and is sometimes an embedded component of a broader reading strategy (see Brigham, Berkeley, Simpkins, & Brigham, 2007).
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