Question-Asking Patterns during Problem-Based Learning Tutorials: Formal Functional Roles

  • Juri Valtanen


Question-asking is essential for being, knowing and learning. However, classroom research has confirmed that students do not ask questions spontaneously and teachers ask the most questions, mainly low-level ones. The purpose of this qualitative case-study is to investigate question-asking during problem-based learning (PBL) tutorials, a subject rarely studied. By filling this gap, this study, based on video-recorded data from 20 small-group tutorial sessions, provides fresh perspective and contributes to the field by focusing on formal functional roles. The analysis reveals that despite the high incidence of questions, they are imbalanced regarding their type and who asks them. The study confirms that students do acquire the skill of question-asking during PBL tutorials. However, to maximize the benefits of question-asking for epistemological and ontological development, more innovative learning activities must be designed and realised in tutorials.