Why do we ask questions? How do we ask?
In Ben Johnson's article, "The Right Way to Ask Questions in the Classroom", I am intrigued by one of his comments regarding the goal of the questions we ask. As teachers, do we ask questions for our own benefit to affirm ourselves or do we ask questions to benefit the learning process for students? I loved what Ben Johnson said regarding the question "Does everybody understand?". He states, "What we really end up telling the students when we ask this sort of question is, 'Ok, here is your last chance. If you don't ask any questions, then you understand completely, and I am free to go on to the next subject. Because I asked this fair question, and gave you a fair chance to answer, I am absolved from any lack of understanding on your part.'" I could not agree more with Johnson about this topic. We have to be careful about the purpose of our questions. WHY are we asking our students this? The Teaching Center Website also offers some great insight into the question of why we ask questions to our students. This source talks about keeping in mind our course goals when we ask our students questions. What are you wanting your students to receive from the lesson? That is the type of questions you need to focus on asking.
So how do we go about asking questions to students? What are some ways that we can ask students questions effectively? The Teaching Center describes some strategies that teachers can use in the classroom when asking questions. One example this website gives is to follow a yes or no question with an additional question. This means to ask students to explain why they answered this way. It is important for students to not just "spit" information back at you. They need to be able to explain how they arrived at that answer. This could be referred to as avoiding burp-back education and the benefits of project-based learning. Another strategy this resource describes is to ask a mix of different types of questions. Closed questions, which only have certain correct answers, can be asked to assess students' comprehension. Open questions need to be asked in order to encourage discussion and active learning.
"Three Ways to Ask Better Questions in the Classroom" is an article that describes some other ways to better answer the proposed question of How to Ask Questions. The three ways are to 1. Prepare the questions. Be sure to prepare ahead of time and not make them up on the spot. This can assure you are being more effective. 2. Play with the questions. It is okay to leave questions unanswered and let the students ponder. 3. Preserve good questions. You can save certain questions for a specific audience or time period. This way they are most effective.
So we can see the important role that questions play in the classroom. However, this important role requires that they be asked in the right way. I hope to have described some ways to ask questions in order to be an effective teacher.