How do we formulate knowledge questions

I guess that my students are still confused. Not that just so many new terms appeared suddenly (knowledge, belief, certainty, uncertainty, warrantability, perception, reason, justification, claims, counter – claims, arguments, creativity, originality, evidence, experience, explanation, perspective, assumption etc.), now they have to deal with a proper constructing of knowledge questions. Albeit the essence of knowledge questions was explained during the one of previous lectures, there is some hunch in me, telling me that we have to dig deeper under the surface of these questions if we want to survive successfully days of exams.  I found as very useful explanations on knowledge questions given by E. Dombrowski, B. Ostrowski and T. Woods, so I decide to use them here, in order to explain the best as I can this issue to my students.

Opening: 15 minutes

Let`s remember what we talked about knowledge questions on one of previous TOK lectures.

Knowledge questions have to be open, general and about knowledge itself.

We can create knowledge questions in any field of knowledge (human sciences, natural sciences, math, arts, religion etc.). As well, we ask many questions every day while searching for an answer about something whether it is a particular fact or an information about something.  And the answer, no matter how truthful is (accurate), at the end of the day, is not about knowledge itself. Yes, we can say that we get knowledge of something but, again, if we don`t include multi – perspective analysis as we learn it in TOK, perhaps we are in danger to miss the full picture.

  • to show to on example of one knowledge fact how knowledge question ca be derived from it

Heavy rains caused floods in the part of Bosnia an Herzegovina in 2015. 

(first order claim)

If we take a look to this statement for a short we catch an information not just about bad weather but about natural disaster (“floods”) in one of regions of the world too. We even know when it happened. But we miss to catch a bigger picture. What caused the floods, for instance? How did people react to such disaster? Did anything evolve from that situation (from human aspect)? These are just some questions that might be raised on this factual information given in a single sentence.

To what extent natural disasters may increase changes in some society?

(second order claim)

This is more general, isn`t it?

Development: 60 minutes

According to Bryan Duffy (Sinarmas World Academy), we should ask further what are the key terms of knowledge given in the statement mentioned at the opening of the class. Do we notice any larger concept implied?

As it is said already, it is possible to generate knowledge claim from any  area of knowledge. But when go further in digging under the surface in the quest for knowledge, we have to come up with knowledge question  now.

Knowledge questions starts with some of the following phrases:

  • To what extent..
  • How ethical is..
  • Under what circumstances..
  • How much.. (justification, verification etc..)

The first short exercise for students:

  • Write knowledge claim from any area of knowledge chosen
  • Try to generate knowledge question from that knowledge claim.

Consider to think about following questions while write your own:

What kind of truth is possible to identify in your knowledge claim and knowledge question? On the other hand, is there any bias in your knowledge claim?  What kind of evidence you can use in order to support an investigation of your knowledge question generated from your knowledge claim? What kind of sources would you use in your investigation? Can you identify just one or more of contexts in your knowledge claim? Can your knowledge claim be justified by any mean of verification? When creating knowledge question do you include your personal knowledge in it? How important role play your past experience, prejudices, stereotypes while you write knowledge question?

We don`t ask for perfection now!

What might be useful for students is the second short exercise in this part of a class.

Their task is to create knowledge questions from terms given in two different groups. The first group contains terms: belief, certainty, culture, evidence, experience, explanation, interpretation, intuition, justification, truth, values. In the other groups are ways of knowing and areas of knowledge.

To emphasize that knowledge questions have to offer an opportunity for discussion. Before presented to the audience in a classroom they have to be judged by examples extracted from real world.

Closure: 15 minutes

Time for fun! And for homework to be assigned!

Listen the song on (Galileo Galilei, scientific method) for the better understanding of scientific method.

For homework:

Find one real life story, and in three steps work extract (first) first order knowledge questions, then four to five knowledge claims and then knowledge questions.



Flocabulary, Scientific method

Knowledge Questions

Knoweldge Question Rubric

How to formulate a good Knowledge Question?, Ostrowski, Barbara

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