How to ask good questions to stimulate learning?

Are we aware of all that we can achieve with good questions at the right time? Perhaps light a little light that activates curiosity, reflection, or the desire to know more. And even that the light stays on for a while. 

Asking the right questions is one of the best techniques to guide students in self-study, resulting in truly meaningful learning. They can become a great encouragement and sometimes even surprise, the student himself, what they are able to advance from the question.

It is not always easy and as a technique, you have to practice it, like all of them. But here are some tips and indications for you to give it a try. 

What good questions can we get ? 

  • Promote dialogue and reflection
  • Activate interest and curiosity
  • Promote cooperation in the classroom
  • Related already learned ideas
  • Hear different opinions
  • Losing the fear of participating
  • Stimulating research
  • Develop analytical thinking
  • Self-assess your own learning
  • Focus on important concepts

    What do we want to achieve with good questions?

    Setting goals can help you know which questions are the most appropriate at all times:

    • Compare : to relate ideas and concepts Why is it bigger… What is the difference between…?
    • Explain : to describe facts. What do you observe when …? What difficulties have you encountered…? Why have you decided to do …?
    • Focus: to focus on the ideas / concepts that make the most sense. What is the central idea? What has surprised / liked you the most?
    • Cause – effect : to predict the consequences of events Why is sea level rising?
    • Understand the process : Why does the rain fall from the sky? Why do objects fall to the ground? Why do you think this is correct?
    • Persuade : or to justify an opinion / position. What would you say to X to convince him of X? How can you convince us that your solution is the best?
    • Excite: for example,, with a novel or text What character do you identify with? How would you have acted if you were the protagonist of …?
    • Suppose or speculate: Is this always the case? What would happen if…?
    • Demonstrate:   Could you give an example of…? How can you verify this information? What is the purpose of this argument?
    • Consensus: reach an agreement or show disagreement. Why do you think you are right? Why do you think x is wrong?
    • Conclude : What have you discovered that you did not know? What has surprised you the most?
    • Formulate hypotheses: What would happen if the Sun disappeared? What if we didn’t eat?

      What do we have to avoid to ask good questions? 

      Without realizing it, we can make mistakes that make the questions lose effectiveness:

      • Repeat, rephrase or even answer! the question before the student: it is important to allow time to think about the answer. Don’t let the silence bother you!
      • Change students with short or incomplete answers. Faced with ‘I don’t know’ the challenge is to ask again instead of changing the student.
      • Include ‘fillers’ as true? no? , which encourages the student to confirm your position instead of raising theirs.
      • Always ask the same students, usually the most capable: it may seem tempting but the least participatory are waiting for their opportunity.
      • ‘Spend’ a question on a single student . Take advantage of your questions to find out different versions of the answer.
      • Do not go off script. We can have a series of questions ready, but the class answers will force us to get out of the way we had planned.
      • Judge the answers as good or bad. Keep asking about why the answer will help us understand the process you have followed.
      • Cut inventiveness with expressions like very good or not quite correct . Different ideas from other students can be lost along the way by following your directions.
      • Ask several questions at the same time. A correct question goes a long way, many questions at the same time can be confusing.
      • Discard questions as difficult. The answers are sure to surprise you.

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