In recent years, educators have investigated and verified the importance of the asking questions by students in the teaching and learning processes (Dillon, 1988; Author and Colleague, 1999). A few studies have also been conducted at the college level (West and Pearson, 1994; Marbach-Ad and Sokolove, 2000). By asking questions, students frequently reveal what they want to learn, what they know, and what they do not know (Colleague and Author, 2009B). Specifically in the learning sciences, the value of student questioning has been emphasized in the National Science Education Standards, which stated that "inquiry into authentic questions generated from student experiences is the central strategy for teaching science" (National Research Council 1996, p. 31). Even though these studies were conducted at the college level, they were not specifically focused on question posing following reading and interpreting scientific research articles. In terms of scientific literacy, emphasis on students' question posing conveys the message that inquiry is a natural component in any science discipline and that questions need, therefore, to be constantly raised (Orr, 1999; Woodward, 1992). Posing questions following reading an article may also improve one’s knowledge—a cognitive function, or monitor one’s thought processes—a metacognitive function (Colleague and Author, 2009B).
Question posing is a skill that can potentially lead to developing the skill of experiment design. According to the National Science Education Standards, students should experience actions in science that engage them in the active construction of ideas and explanations (NRC, 1996). Indeed, question posing and experiment design represent what scientists do through conducting an investigation, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions (Roth, 2005). We will present in this paper findings concerning students' scientific literacy skills that include question posing, identifying the canonical article structure, and suggesting subsequent experiment design. In addition, we will represent qualitative findings concerning the students' scientific literacy as reflected in analyzing their discourse in the asynchronous forum of the course.