Mory and Wagner, “The Role of Questions in Learning”

Mory and Wagner state that “the premise of this chapter is that in order to understand variables affecting feedback [provided by educators to learners], research must ask the question, ‘Feedback for what?’” (p. 56). “Questions and feedback are inextricably related,” they contend, in that “[f]eedback is always related to a response generated by a question. In this sense, the meaning of feedback is dependent upon its context in the instruction” (p. 71). And so, when one asks “‘Feedback for what?’”, one has to “take into consideration the type of question, the stage of information processing, and conditions within the learner to arrive at an answer” (p. 72).

In the course of their development of this premise, Mory and Wagner explore the various properties and functions of short-term and long-term memory, as well as strategies that can be used to improve the functions of both kinds memory. One of those employed for short-term memory is “chunking,” which works to increase the “small capacity of the short-term memory to process information” (p. 65). That is, “[b]y organizing the stimulus [experienced by a learner] into a sequence of chunks, “the information is put into more manageable units (Miller, 1956). These chunks can then be remembered separately and chained together” (p. 65).

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