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Do not wait until the last two minutes of class to ask for questions. Students are unlikely to ask questions when they know that only a few minutes remain. Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions work best for engaging students in discussion, as they offer the opportunity for debate. The previous table shows six types of cognitive processes ordered according to the level of complexity involved. Refine and reflect on questions after class.

After teaching a class session, teaching a help session, collecting an assignment, or administering an exam, take brief notes on which questions were the most effective at achieving the goals you had set and which questions led to answers that you did not expect. Keep these notes with your lecture notes or lesson plans and use them to refine your questions for the next time you will teach or meet with students.

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Facilitating a Discussion Give students time to think and formulate responses. Waiting seconds will increase the number of students who volunteer to answer and will lead to longer, more complex answers. If students do not volunteer after 10 seconds have passed, rephrase the question. Refrain from answering your own question, which will only communicate to students that if they do not answer, you will do their thinking for them. Wait for students to finish an idea before interjecting. You may find yourself wanting to interrupt because you think you know what the student is going to say, or simply because you are passionate about the material.

Resist this temptation. Show interest in all answers. Encourage students when they are offering answers by nodding, looking at them, and using facial expressions that show you are listening.

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Do not look down at your notes while they are speaking. Thank students who respond to your questions and engage in discussions to communicate your appreciation for their involvement with creating a dialogue in your course. Redirect and guide wrong answers towards a correct one. If he or she does not recall the conclusion, open this question up to the class.

Develop responses that will keep students thinking. Resist the temptation to simply respond with praise or censure. For example, ask the rest of the class to respond to an idea that one student has just presented, or ask the student who answered to explain the thinking that led to their answer.

Selected References and Resources Anderson, L. Davis, Barbara Gross.

Tools for teaching. Students wrote a weekly report in which they answered three questions pertaining to what they had learnt and how they had learnt it, what questions remained unclear, and what questions they would ask their students if they were the professor, to find out if students understood the material. The raw number of questions asked had no significant correlation with any measure of conceptual achievement. Students who asked mainly questions about equations did not do as well as those who asked more coherence questions, suggesting that students with a fairly solid conceptual base asked questions that help them connect various pieces of their knowledge.


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Furthermore, students who lacked conceptual knowledge and asked questions to fill in the gaps scored better on subsequent conceptual tests than those who did not. These findings indicate that simply encouraging students to ask questions does not necessarily result in better learning. The results of the above studies, suggesting that there is a relationship between the quality of students' questions and achievement as well as their conceptual understanding, are important but not unexpected. One pedagogical implication of this finding is for teachers to design learning tasks that provide opportunities for students to ask questions that would help them link disparate bits of knowledge into a coherent whole.

Such tasks might require students to pitch their thinking at levels which include the application, evaluation, and synthesis of ideas. The kinds of questions that students ask may be related to the way they approach their learning tasks. In contrast, wonderment questions, which included comprehension, prediction, anomaly detection, application, and planning questions, led students to wonder more deeply about their ideas.

Although the students did not always ask wonderment questions spontaneously, they were able to generate such questions when prompted to do so. Some students were more inclined to ask questions than others, and wonderment questions stimulated either the questioners themselves or another student to generate an answer. The above findings suggest that teachers need to recognise the learning approaches i. Furthermore, since students' questions were not always spontaneously generated, this finding implies that teachers cannot leave students to their own devices to ask questions.


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  6. Rather, they need to provide prompts and scaffolding, and explicitly orient students towards asking questions as part of class activities. According to Kolb Kolb, D. A diverger is imaginative, looks at things from different perspectives, and is good at generating ideas and perceiving relationships. Questioning styles and students' learning: Four case studies. Educational Psychology , 24 4 : — They compared the quality and quantity of questions asked by these students who were identified as either a diverger, converger, assimilator, or accommodator, based on Kolb's experiential learning theory Kolb, Kolb, D.

    In Perspectives on thinking, learning and cognitive styles , Edited by: Sternberg, R. Mahwah, NJ : Lawrence Erlbaum. Their findings on the disposition of learners to ask different kinds of questions showed that although a student may have a clear preference for a particular learning style, some students could still deploy all styles of learning and utilise diverse types of questions. This then led to a more holistic and effective way of learning.

    However, students at a lower stage of knowledge development lacked the sophistication to ask a variety of questions, leading the authors to conclude that the kind of questions that students raise is not only influenced by their learning style but also contingent upon their stage of knowledge development. An analysis of question asking on scientific texts explaining natural phenomena. Journal of Research in Science Teaching , 37 6 : — The authors were also interested to find out what kinds of questions were asked.

    Critical Thinking Questions: The Big List for Your Classroom

    Three task conditions were chosen. However, no significant main effects were found for grade level or task condition concerning the total number of questions and number of deep reasoning questions. The authors concluded that complex interactions exist among the variables, which, in turn, influence the questioning behaviour of the students.

    How to use critical thinking in the classroom

    Thus, although we might expect older readers to ask more questions than younger ones because of their higher metacognitive ability, they may not do so because they have relevant knowledge of the information provided in the texts and find the paragraphs more comprehensible. Do the kinds of questions that students ask depend on the type of instruction that their teachers use? The studies reviewed here attempt to provide some answers to this question. Can undergraduate biology students learn to ask higher level questions?

    48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

    Journal of Research in Science Teaching , 37 8 : — Questions from students were voiced publicly using wireless microphones , written in laboratory notebooks, or posed on email to the instructor. On the other hand, the traditional class was taught using a lecture format with little time allocated for open discussion and questions. Both classes were presented with a taxonomy of questions. In contrast, the quality of students' questions in the traditional class was largely unchanged. Improving students' questions in inquiry labs. American Biology Teacher , 63 6 : — Hofstein, Shore, and Kipnis Hofstein, A.

    International Journal of Science Education , 26 1 : 47 — Journal of Research in Science Teaching , 42 7 : — The authors found that students who learnt through the inquiry approach, and who had experience in asking questions in the laboratory, significantly outperformed the control group in their ability to ask more and better questions. Teaching for quality learning in chemistry. International Journal of Science Education , 27 9 : — The protocols of the practical sessions were also less directive and prescriptive. There was an increase in students' engagement in learning over time, as indicated by the number and quality of questions asked by students.

    By analysing the number and distribution of questions over time, the authors concluded that it was possible to create a questioning environment where students ask questions and receive answers as an integral part of everyday transactions, and that learners' questions can be a fruitful means of increasing student engagement in learning chemistry. However, since this study did not include a control group, it is possible that the increase in students' engagement was due to the students getting to know their lecturers better and developing a stronger knowledge base with which to engage in the subject.

    The kind of questions that students ask has also been found to be dependent on whether students have been exposed to reading research papers. To examine the effect of studying through research papers on students' ability to pose questions, Brill and Yarden Brill, G. Cell Biology Education , 2: — The researchers also monitored students' questions that were asked orally during the lessons. The questions were analysed using three categories based on Dillon's Dillon, J. The classification of research questions. Review of Educational Research , 54 3 : — Questions that raised some kind of criticism of research were also included in the third category since they indicated contradictory relationships.

    The questions were also general e. In contrast, students tended to pose questions that revealed a higher level of thinking and uniqueness e. This change in the level and specificity of questions was not observed during or following instruction with a control group using a textbook. The combination of theoretical background declarative knowledge and research methods procedural knowledge would not only allow a variety of possibilities and combinations in formulating questions, but also help students to become acquainted with the way scientists conduct research in developing the rationale for the research, formulating the research question, developing the methods, analysing the data, and arriving at conclusions.

    Table 4 presents a summary of the studies on the relationships between students' questions and selected variables. Taken together, the results of the above studies show that the cognitive level of questions posed by students is, to some extent, dependent on the nature of instruction. What these pedagogies share in common is that they all explicitly require students to ask questions by immersing them in a learning environment that values questions.

    The students were engaged in thoughtful tasks where they experienced the various phases of inquiry that reflected the nature of science. These included being challenged by alternative points of view and debating them, justifying their assertions, and posing questions to resolve doubts or seek answers. In a nutshell, the students were placed in situations where they had to pose questions to steer and extend their own thinking.