Is there any research/study/survey that looked at whether / to what extent students asking questions in class improve the learning outcome of the entire class?

I am most interested in computer science and math education, but curious about other fields as well.

  • 1
    Asking about Canada when the lecture is about Mexico doesn't help anyone. And if the level of the question is very high or very low, it could only help the person asking. But other than that, the more questions the better in my experience. (I also don't know any research.)
    – user37208
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 17:29
  • 4
    How would you do the study? I hope there are no professors out there who don't allow students to ask questions, so I don't see how you would get a control group. There is a lot of evidence supporting active learning; for a summary in STEM subjects, see Freeman, pnas.org/content/early/2014/05/08/1319030111 . But active learning means a lot more than just allowing students to ask questions. What seems to have happened since this evidence first came out ca. 1995 is that a lot of people have imitated techniques of active learning, such as clickers, while not doing active learning.
    – user1482
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 20:18
  • @BenCrowell E.g., banning questions, video lecture only, or student surveys. Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 20:26
  • 3
    @FranckDernoncourt: Banning questions seems obviously unethical to me. If you compare live lectures to video lectures, then you're introducing a ton of other uncontrolled variables.
    – user1482
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 20:57
  • 2
    The comments are not for posting one's personal opinion about whether questions in class are good, or for discussing how one might perform the research requested in the question. Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


In a group class setting, educators, mistakenly, think that if one person responds, subsequently the rest of the class shares the same understanding. Most instructors would agree this is not the case.

Questions on relevant topics help to engage all the students. Often times I use the student's question as a connecting point to ask one of mine. Other times I involve other students by asking questions such as “Good, now can someone provide another example? Who else has an opinion? Who disagrees?”

If the question is off-topic then it is the educator's responsibility to bring the class back to the discussion by asking one of their own questions.

At this time, I am unaware of any research related to this.

Note: I will append any links to this post if I come across relevant studies.

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