You are here:

When Knowledge Isn’t Power: The Influence of Prior Knowledge on Question Generation Training

, Harding University, United States ; , University of Memphis, United States ; , Auburn University, United States ; , University of Memphis, United States

Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia Volume 27, Number 2, ISSN 1055-8896 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


Is it possible to teach a learner to become a better question asker in as little as 25 minutes? Given that many teachers and school districts do not have the resources to provide individualized question training to students, the current study sought to explore the benefits of using animated pedagogical agents to teach question asking skills in a relatively short amount of time (approximately 25 minutes). Results revealed a significant difference in the quality of questions generated on the posttest as a function of condition. Additionally, results revealed a significant interaction between prior knowledge and question training on the posttest scores.


Sullins, J., Acuff, S., Neely, D. & Hu, X. (2018). When Knowledge Isn’t Power: The Influence of Prior Knowledge on Question Generation Training. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 27(2), 245-265. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved February 17, 2019 from .

View References & Citations Map


  1. Aleven, V., Stahl, E., Schworm, S., Fischer, F., & Wallace, R. (2003). Help seeking and help design in interactive learning environments. Review of Educational Research, 73(3), 277-320.
  2. Azevedo, R., & Cromley, J.G. (2004). Does training on self-regulated learning facilitate students’ learning with hypermedia? Journal of educational psychology, 96(3), 523.
  3. Azevedo, R., Guthrie, J.T., & Seibert, D. (2004). The role of self-regulated learning in fostering students’ conceptual understanding of complex systems with hypermedia. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 30(12), 87-111.
  4. Azevedo, R., Moos, D.C., Greene, J.A., Winters, F.I., & Cromley, J.G. (2008). Why is externally-facilitated regulated learning more effective than selfregulated learning with hypermedia? Educational Technology Research and Development, 56(1), 45-72.
  5. Baker, L. (1979). Comprehension monitoring: identifying and coping with text confusions. Journal of Reading Behavior, 11, 363-374.
  6. Bandura, A. (1962). Punishment revisited. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 26(4), 298-301. Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives. Vol. 1: Cognitive Domain. New York: McKay.
  7. Bourdeau, J., & Bates, A (1997). Instructional Design for Distance Learning. In R.D. Tennyson., S. Dijkstra, N. Seel, and F. Schott (Eds.), Instructional Design: International Perspectives, 369-397. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  8. Bringula R.P., Basa R.S., DelaCruz C., & Rodrigo M.M.T. (2016). Effects of prior knowledge in mathematics on learner-interface interactions in a learning-by-teaching intelligent tutoring system. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 54(4), 462–482.
  9. Bugg, J.M., & McDaniel, M.A. (2012). Selective benefits of question self-generation and answering for remembering expository text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 922-931.
  10. Chin, C., & Brown, D.E. (2002). Student-generated questions: A meaningful aspect of learning in science. International Journal of Science Education, 24(5), 521-549.
  11. Cox, R., McKendree, J., Tobin, R., Lee, J., & Mayes, T. (1999). Vicarious learning from dialogue and discourse. Instructional Science, 27, 431–458.
  12. Craig, S.D., Chi, M.T.H., & VanLehn, K. (2009). Improving classroom learning by collaboratively observing human tutoring videos while problem solving. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 779-789.
  13. Craig, S.D., Sullins, J., Witherspoon, A., & Gholson, B. (2006). The deep-level reasoning questions effect: The role of dialog and deep-level reasoning questions during vicarious learning. Cognition and Instruction, 24: 563– 589.
  14. Dillon, J.T. (1988). Questioning and teaching: A manual of practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
  15. Draper, S.W. (2009). Catalytic assessment: understanding how MCQs and EVS can foster deep learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40, 285–293. .
  16. Eva, K.W., Cunnington, J.P., Reiter, H.I., Keane, D.R., & Norman, G.R. (2004). How can I know what I don’t know? Poor self-assessment in a welldefined domain. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 9(3), 211-224.
  17. Fyfe, E.R., & Rittle-Johnson, B. (2016). Feedback both helps and hinders learning: The causal role of prior knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(1), 82-97.
  18. Gholson, B., & Craig, S.D. (2006). Promoting constructive activities that support vicarious learning during computer-based instruction. Educational Psychology Review, 18(2), 119-139.
  19. Graesser, A.C., & Person, N.K. (1994). Question asking during tutoring. American Educational Research Journal, 31(1), 104-137.
  20. Graesser, A.C., Baggett, W., & Williams, K. (1996). Question-driven explanatory reasoning. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 17-32.
  21. Graesser, A.C., Ozuru, Y., Sullins, J., McKeown, M.L., Kucan, L. (2009). What is a good question?.Threads of Coherence in Research on the Development of Reading Ability. Guilford, NY, 112-141.
  22. Graesser, A.C., Singer, M., & Trabasso, T. (1994). Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychological Review, 101(3), 371-395.
  23. Graesser, A.C., Chipman, P., Haynes, B.C., & Olney, A. (2005) AutoTutor: An intelligent tutoring system with mixed-initiative dialogue. IEEE Transactions in Education, 48, 612–618.
  24. Griffin, T.D., Jee, B.D., & Wiley, J. (2009). The effects of domain knowledge on metacomprehension accuracy. Memory& Cognition, 37(7), 1001-1013.
  25. Heilman, M., & Smith, N.A. (2010). Tree edit models for recognizing textual entailments, paraphrases, and answers to questions. In Human Language Technologies: The 2010 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, 1011-1019, Association for Computational Linguistics.
  26. Hu, X., Cai, Z., Han, L., Craig, S.D., Wang, T., & Graesser, A.C. (2009). AutoTutor Lite. In Proceedings of the 2009 conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education: Building learning systems that care: From knowledge representation to affective modelling, 802, IOS Press.
  27. Kalyuga, S., Ayers, P., Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (2003). The expertise reversal effect. The expertise reversal effect. Educational Psychologist, 38 (1), 2331.
  28. Karabenick, S.A., & Newman, R.S. (2009). Seeking help: Generalizable selfregulatory process and social-cultural barometer. Contemporary motivation research: From global to local perspectives, 25-48.
  29. Li, H., Duan, Y., Clewley, D.N., Morgan, B., Graesser, A.C., Shaffer, D.W., & Saucerman, J. (2014, January). Question asking during collaborative problem solving in an online game environment. In Intelligent tutoring systems (pp. 617–618). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Doi:
  30. McNamara, D.S. (1995). Effects of prior knowledge on the generation advantage: Calculators versus calculation to learn simple multiplication. Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 307-318.
  31. McNamara, D.S. (2001). Reading both high-coherence and low-coherence texts: Effects of text sequence and prior knowledge. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 55, 51-62.
  32. McNamra, D.S., Ozuru, Y., & Floyd, R.G. (2011). Comprehension challenges in the fourth grade: The roles of text cohesion, text genre, and readers’ prior knowledge. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 4(1), 229-257.
  33. Miller, G.A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychol. Rev., (63), 81-97.
  34. Miyake, N., & Norman, D.A. (1979). To ask a question, one must know enough to know what is not known. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 18, 357-364.
  35. Moore, J.L., Dickson-Deane, C., & Galyen, K. (2011). E-Learning, online learning, and distance learning environments: Are they the same?. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(2), 129-135.
  36. Pintrich, P.R. (2004). A conceptual framework for assessing motivation and self-regulated learning in college students. Educational psychology review, 16(4), 385-407.
  37. Roll, I., Aleven, V., McLaren, B.M., & Koedinger, K.R. (2011). Improving students’ help-seeking skills using metacognitive feedback in an intelligent tutoring system. Learning and Instruction, 21(2), 267-280.
  38. Rosenshine, B., Meister, C., & Chapman, S. (1996). Teaching students to generate questions: A review of the intervention studies. Review of Educational Research, 66, 181-221.
  39. Rosenthal, T.L., & Zimmerman, B.J. (1978). Social learning and cognition. New York: Academic Press.
  40. Rus, V., & Arthur, C.G. (2009). The question generation shared task and evaluation challenge. In The University of Memphis, National Science Foundation. Speth, E.B., Momsen, J.L., Moyerbrailean, G.A., Ebert-May, D., Long, T.M.,
  41. Wyse, S., & Linton, D. (2010). 1, 2, 3, 4: infusing quantitative literacy into introductory biology. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 9(3), 323-332.
  42. Song, H.S., Kalet, A.L., & Plass, J.L. (2016). Interplay of prior knowledge, self-regulation and motivation in complex multimedia learning environments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32, 31–50. Doi:10.1111/jcal.12117.
  43. Sternberg, R.J. (1987). Questioning and intelligence. Question Exchange, 1, 111.
  44. Sullins, J., & McNamara, D.S. (2009). ISTART question training module: training students efficient questioning skills. Presented at 2nd Workshop on Question Generation. Brighton, UK.
  45. Sullins, J., Craig, S.D., & Graesser, A.C. (2010). The influence of modality on deep-reasoning questions. International Journal of Learning Technology, 5(4), 378-387.
  46. Sullins, J., Howard, T., & Goza, K. (2014). Are educational shows teaching our kids how to become lifelong learners? Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 23(4), 385-400.
  47. Tang, I.A., Butler, D.L., Cartier, S.C., Giammarino, M., & Gagnon, F. (2006, May). Strategic help-seeking by secondary ESL students in reading contexts. In annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Studies in Education, Toronto, ON, Canada. Sullins, Acuff, Neely, and Hu of Educational Psychology, 3, 401-405.
  48. Wisher, R.A., & Graesser, A.C. (2007). Question asking in advanced distributed learning environments. In S.M. Fiore & E. Salas (Eds.), Toward a science of distributed learning and training (pp. 209–234). Washington, DC:

These references have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake in the references above, please contact