Developing Effective Questions
Having effective questions and questioning is essential for teachers and tutors, as they need to get the most from their students. As well as help themselves to understand where the students are falling down or where their knowledge is. As well as if the students are understanding the topic and material. So we’ll help you become better at making questions and questioning by taking you through a few strategies.
The Socratic method of questioning is a really popular approach with teachers and tutors. The method uses a form of inquiry that promotes open discussion. It is a process by which two viewpoints are compared and contrasted. Through probing and thought-provoking questions, the lesson provides learners with information instead of directly giving them information. This is to help stimulate original thoughts and opinions from students.
In order to become successful in this method, teachers/educators need to be skilled in three categories of questions: Explanatory, spontaneous and focused.
An explanation question is used to determine how much students know about a topic. The purpose of this type of questioning is to introduce new topics to students, review past discussions on a topic, or determine how much students have retained from previous lessons/sessions. This method can be used for discussing and evaluating a wide variety of topics and issues. You can always plan explanatory questions and topics in advance, so you can guide the discussion in a more beneficial manner.
The best time to ask spontaneous questions is when students are naturally curious about the topic or a discussion is lagging. By asking these questions, students are encouraged to explore their beliefs and assumptions. Rather than having the instructor correct students, this method of questioning encourages them to correct themselves. By reflecting on the question.
There are a few more ways to use spontaneous questioning, including:
- Whenever an important issue is raised,
- when students are on the edge of a breakthrough in learning
- or when a discussion requires clarification.
Focused questioning narrows the content down to specific topics or issues the teacher/tutor would like the students to learn and reflect upon. Having a focused discussion helps to stimulate students intellectually by making them evaluate their thoughts and perspectives. Students are able to experience an ordered dialogue in which they discover and share ideas and insights in regard to the topic.
Question circles are a strategy that leads students from superficial baseline responses to the subject matter. The question circle was originally a process for exploring students understanding of written texts. It is possible, however, to adapt them to discuss a variety of topics. Such as case studies, videos or experiences. There are three ways to pose questions when using this method. The subject matter, personal response and external reality.
The subject matter includes the factual, conceptual and procedural knowledge taken directly from the reading or learning materials or experience. A personal response is the learner’s reactions to perceptions of and direct experiences related to the subject matter. Finally, the external reality relates to the broader context of the subject matter, such as within society.
Most questioning methods focus on the teacher asking the questions. However, student-generated questions can also lead to deeper learning and thinking. This requires students to create their own questions to evoke a greater understanding of the course material and subject matter. A way to do this in teaching is to make critical statements meant to evoke a response and question from students. Rather than continuously questioning them about the material. When there are no straightforward answers to the specific question asked, students should reflect on all the possible answers. This is to help them gain a deeper understanding.
Students demonstrate more complexity and engagement when using this strategy.
Another approach is questioning as thinking method. Students are encouraged to generate questions as part of their exploration and understanding of the topic. The QAT method incorporated both questioning and think-aloud learning strategies. Students should be independently maintaining their learning by asking themselves questions such as:
- What are my goals for learning?
- Does the material/topic make sense to me?
The think-aloud method encourages students to verbalise their inner thoughts, thinking processes and decision-making skills. You can facilitate the QAT method by modeling the relationship between questioning and thinking aloud. You can use materials to explain an example of think-aloud to help demonstrate how multiple answers can form a question. Once you have explained the strategy, you should ask your students to form their own questions, answers and thought processes during the classroom discussions.
If you have any questions about how to use effective questions and questioning, don’t hesitate to get in contact with our assessor team at the office on 01205 805 155 and they would be happy to help!