Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Ask a clearer question, get a better answer. [version 1; peer review: 1 approved, 1 approved with reservations]

Henri, Dominic; Morrell, Lesley; Scott, Graham


Profile Image

Dr Dom Henri
Senior Lecturer (School Natural Sciences) / Senior Research Fellow (Teaching Excellence Academy}

Graham Scott


Many undergraduate students struggle to engage with higher order skills such as evaluation and synthesis in written assignments, either because they do not understand that these are the aim of written assessment or because these critical thinking skills require more effort than writing a descriptive essay. Here, we report that students who attended a freely available workshop, in which they were coached to pose a question in the title of their assignment and then use their essay to answer that question, obtained higher marks for their essay than those who did not attend. We demonstrate that this is not a result of latent academic ability amongst students who chose to attend our workshops and suggest this increase in marks was a result of greater engagement with ‘critical thinking’ skills, which are essential for upper 2:1 and 1st class grades. The tutoring method we used holds two particular advantages: First, we allow students to pick their own topics of interest, which increases ownership of learning, which is associated with motivation and engagement in ‘difficult’ tasks. Second, this method integrates the development of ‘inquisitiveness’ and critical thinking into subject specific learning, which is thought to be more productive than trying to develop these skills in isolation.


Henri, D., Morrell, L., & Scott, G. (in press). Ask a clearer question, get a better answer. [version 1; peer review: 1 approved, 1 approved with reservations]. F1000Research, 4, Article 901.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 25, 2015
Online Publication Date Sep 25, 2015
Deposit Date Feb 1, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal F1000Research
Electronic ISSN 2046-1402
Publisher F1000Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Article Number 901
Keywords Study skills, Critical thinking
Public URL
Publisher URL


Article.pdf (727 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Copyright: © 2015 Henri D et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Data associated with the article are available under the terms of the Creative Commons Zero "No rights reserved" data waiver (CC0 1.0 Public domain dedication).

You might also like

Downloadable Citations