When it comes to teaching students, we would all love to be in a position where everyone in the room is fully engaged and hanging onto every single word we say (in our dreams!). The reality is that all learners entering the classroom have their own things going on behind closed doors and are unlikely to be attentive at all times. Some (particularly the younger generation) will just be completing a class because they are being forced to, rather than out of choice. This means they are unlikely to be interested in the subject or qualification, the lessons are simply a means to an end.
So how can we try and engage with our learners and get them to ask valuable questions that others in the room may not have thought about? It may sound silly, but in order to get your learners to ask questions, you have to start by asking them first. This is one of the best ways to turn your switched off learners into those who are actually willing to listen.
Planning Is Key
As well as creating a full lesson plan, take the time to plan some questions as well. You may find that asking your learners questions could be more beneficial to them than a well-planned activity! It isn’t just about adding open and closed questions to your lesson though, as these can still be quite restrictive. Here is a quick guide for creating a good question:
- Knowledge – this refers to the who/what/where/when, asking your learners for a descriptive answer.
- Comprehension – this is about asking your learners the differences or ideas behind a concept.
- Application – this includes how XYZ is related to XYZ and what the significance is.
- Synthesis – this type of question gets learners to think outside the box, and can include things like ‘what would you predict / what might happen if’…
- Analysis – fairly straightforward, this is about asking your learners for evidence to back up their statements.
- Evaluation – this is all about asking how the learners have come to their conclusion, and the criteria they used in order to get there.
How Can Learners Ask Good Questions?
You may be thinking that we have been focusing a lot on how you as a teacher or Assessor can ask questions, which isn’t quite the subject of the blog. The thing is, you need to develop trust with your learners. If all questions are valued then they will feel more comfortable at having a go themselves.
At any age, using enquiry-based learning is a great way to get the ball rolling. Simple questions like ‘what do I want to know’ are great to find out more about what your learners are hoping to achieve from the session. If you are teaching those with similar interests, it may be a good idea to group them together so they can work on parts of the topic they find interesting. This will help improve engagement, and encourage them to ask you questions too.
Teach Your Learners!
Once you have grasped the idea of asking pivotal questions and your learners have absorbed the teaching you are delivering, you then need to educate them on how to ask good questions. Plan opportunities within your lesson for them to ask each other questions to start with – role play is a great way to introduce this seamlessly. Make sure learners have planning time where they have the opportunity to prepare well thought out questions rather than putting them on the spot and making them feel uncomfortable.
So there you have it, the best way to engage your learners! We would love to hear from you if you have other methods that you use – drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.