Strategies for Classrooms-Asking good questions

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Quescussion

Props/Prep: No
Time: 15-45 min
Audience: Any
Physical: No

Quescussion, as the name indicates, is a type of discussion that is conducted entirely in the form of questions (think Alex Trebek). The professor asks a question or makes a statement to the class (this question should be projected on the screen). There are some basic rules to follow when responding to this prompt.

Students and teachers must multi-task during this game. It is very engaging, requiring the participant to stay in tune with the rules of the game in addition to answering content questions.

Time requirements: 15 – 45 minutes

Materials needed: None

Procedure:

  • Discussion has to be in question form (No statements!) .
  • A person may speak only every 7th time. (You determine the number based on the size of the group.)
  • No fake questions (i.e., a statement disguised as a question. For example, “Small classes are better than large ones, aren’t they?”).
  • No put down’s, an attack on someone else (i.e., “You would have to be crazy to think that, wouldn’t you?” – this is also a disguised statement).
  • If someone makes a statement, the rest of the class is to shout “Statement” .
  • The exercise is self-policing.

Function in the class: By following these rules, the quescussion can be an effective way to generate discussion and learning and to determine what are the levels of understanding on a specific topic. It can also be used to help determine topics to cover in subsequent lectures. By framing the discussion into questions, students feel less intimidated to speak in front of a large class. The rule of speaking every 7th time generates a variety of voices and allows for reflection while waiting for a turn to speak.

Questions

Props/Prep: No
Time: Varies
Audience: Any
Physical: No

Questions are the simplest form of interaction and can occur at any time during the lecture or class time. By asking questions, you not only turn students into active participants, but you can also get a sense of their interest and comprehension. Ask questions at varying times. Questions are the simplest form of an interactive teaching tool. They are useful in any discipline. They can help make students active learners and gauge their level of interest and comprehension.

Time requirements: Varies

Materials needed: None

Procedure:

  • Develop key questions before class. They won’t occur to you on the spot.
  • Decide when you’re going to ask them. Thinking ahead also allows you to plan your time.
  • Ask questions that can be answered, but favour open-ended questions over yes/no
    questions.
  • Vary the form and level of the questions. Questions that have multiple correct answers or that rely only on general knowledge are good for encouraging participation. More complex questions can be used to gauge student knowledge.
  • Ask only one question at a time or you will confuse the students.
  • Pause between asking and accepting replies (pausing gives students a chance to think of an answer, and by not asking the first person who raises his/her hand, you encourage quieter students to participate).
  • Acknowledge all answers – thank students for participating, repeat their comments so the class can hear and/or write them down so that they are visible.
  • Keep the whole class involved in the question and answer exchange. Move around the room when trying to elicit participation. When responding to a student question or comment, split your attention so that you are focused on the class in general 75% of the time and the student speaking 25% of the time.

Function in the class: Questions are integral to the success of discussion groups. They can also be the organizing principle behind a tutorial or lecture. During lectures, ask questions early on to stimulate interest and gauge students’ level of knowledge; in the middle, to break the pace of the lecture; and/or at the end, to review main ideas and gather ideas for future classes. You can use supporting technology such as Clickers, or Interactive PowerPoint 2007 or games such as Jeopardy to facilitate a smooth transition from lecture to active questioning.

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