SQPL – Student Questions for Purposeful Learning



All students need to develop the ability to read, listen, and learn with a purpose (Brozo & Simpson, 2007).  Purposeful learning is associated with higher levels of engagement and achievement (Ediger & Pavlik, 1999; Schunk & Zimmerman, 1998).  When students learn purposefully, they focus and sustain attention (Guthrie & Humenick, 2004).  SQPL promotes purposeful reading and learning by prompting students to ask and answer their own questions about content.


Teaching Process

1.   Create an SQPL lesson by first looking over the material to be read and covered in the day’s lesson.  A statement is then generated related to the material that would cause students to wonder, challenge, and question.  The statement does not have to be factually true as long as it provokes interest and curiosity, as in the examples below of question-provoking statements for various disciplinary topics.


Sample SQPL Question-Provoking Statements for Disciplinary Topics



   Topic: Courtroom chapters in To Kill a


SQPL Statement: Atticus is wasting his time defending Tom.



 Topic: Measuring 3-dimensional objects

 SQPL Statement: With just a ruler I can tell you the total distance around the Earth.



 Topic: Communism in post-WWII Europe

 SQPL Statement: People are happiest when government takes care of all their needs, and everyone is equal.


2.   Next, present the statement to students.  Most often teachers write the statement on the board, though it can also be projected on the overhead or from a computer, put on a handout, and even stated orally for students to record in their notebooks.

3.   Students should pair up and, based on the statement, generate 2-3 questions they would like answered.  The questions must be related to the statement and should not be purposely farfetched or parodies. 

4.   When all student pairs have thought of their questions, ask someone from each team to share questions with the whole class.  As students ask their questions aloud, write them on the board.  Eventually, similar questions will be asked by more than one pair.  These should be starred or highlighted in some way.

5.   Once all questions have been shared, look over the student generated list and decide whether your own questions need to be added. This may be necessary when students have failed to ask about important information they need to be sure to learn. 

6.   At this point, students will be ready for the information source so they can seek answers to their questions.  Tell them as they read and/or listen to pay attention to information that helps answer questions from the board.  They should be especially focused on material related to the questions that were starred.  These might be considered class consensus questions.

7.   As content is covered, stop periodically and have students discuss with their partners which questions could be answered, then ask for volunteers to share.  Students might be required to record the questions from the board and the answers they find in their notebooks for later study.



Brozo, W.G., & Simpson, M.L. (2007). Content literacy for today’s adolescents:

        Honoring diversity and building competence. Upper Saddle River, NJ:

        Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Ediger, A., & Pavlik, C. (1999). Reading connections: Skills and strategies for purposeful

        reading. New York: Oxford University Press.

Guthre, J., & Humenick, N. (2004). Motivating students to read: Evidence for classroom

        Practices that increase reading motivation and achievement. In P. McCardle &

        V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (329-354). 

        Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing.

Schunk, D.H., & Zimmerman, B.J. (1998). Self-regulated learning from teaching to

        self-reflective practice. New York: Guilford Press.


From the