What is the Elaborative Interrogation Strategy?

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WhatistheElaborativeInterrogationStrategyThinking back on how young inquisitive little ones, used to constantly bombard us with their “why questions.” “Why are the stars so bright, why does the moon change its shape or why is the sky so blue? Everything around them could rouse up their curiosity and their minds were eager for information. Likewise the Elaborative Interrogation Strategy is also a technique that encourages learning through the use of the question “why”.

What is Elaborative Interrogation Strategy?

The strategy is one that focuses on enhancing memory. It brings out facts that are learned by encouraging students to generate “Why” questions after reading the material. Once the question has been generated, students should try to derive possible answers that define the cause-effect relation between subject and the predicate. In this way students are engaged in a process of active learning.

For example: Plants need oxygen, water and sunlight for the process of photosynthesis to occur. Students should ask themselves “why do plants require the following factors for photosynthesis? They should then try to elaborate and derive an answer to the question by establishing a relationship between the subject (photosynthesis) and the predicate (water, oxygen and light).

The technique is best used to remember facts regarding places, people, and processes.

How does the strategy work?

Elaborative interrogation strategy works on the principle of activation of prior knowledge. Once questions are generated, students have to answer the questions by sifting through their previous learning, to see if they can establish a connection between the new and old information.

Reading the content also teaches students to critically analyze and reflect on their material in order to pick up clues to answers for the generated questions.

Incorporating the technique:

Like with every strategy that we introduce, the first step is to model the strategy. In this case, teachers can demonstrate how to generate a why question after reading through a statement. This can be followed with a discussion in which students derive and generate answers for the questions. The various answers can be compiled on the blackboard and students can decide on the best choice that answers the question.

As a second step, teachers can allot the students in pairs or groups and ask them to generate questions and answers for the facts to be learnt. Students are encouraged to read through the material to look out for clues to answer certain questions and to generate the abstract answers by self. Remind them that there is no wrong answer in this learning process and to work out each question and answer through reflection and discussion.

With time as students familiarize themselves with the strategy, students can frame the questions on their own and try to generate answers even when thinking in a second party perspective i.e. “why did the author describe the situation as dark and dreary?”

Discuss here: What are some creative ways of encouraging “Why” questions in the classroom?

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