Asking questions can be a great way to not only assess/monitor the learning that is happening during a class session, but to promote learning. Learning happens when students engage with the content, the instructor and/or with other students in a meaningful way. Good questions can promote this kind of engagement. Below are important considerations when determining the type of question to ask and strategies to increase the opportunities for more voices to be heard.
Types of Questions
- Recall Questions
- Often used to see if students did the reading or remember facts from an earlier class. It is a quick check-in that does not typically generate much discussion
- Conception Questions
- Checks to see how well students understand key concepts. Can be an effective way to identify common student misconceptions. Asking a class full of students “does that make sense?” or “do you have any questions?” is often answered with a few head nods and rarely provides us with any useful information. But allow them a chance to respond anonymously with clickers or polling apps and everyone’s voice is “heard”. Or you can offer students the opportunity to answer a “muddiest point” question as an “Exit Ticket” at the end of class.
- Probing Questions
- When a student’s initial response is superficial, following up with a probing question encourages students to analyze their own and other students’ ideas. Or probing questions can be used to help students clarify or elaborate on their comments by asking for more information.
- Confidence Level Questions
- Asking students to rate their level of confidence with performing a task, explaining a concept or completing an assignment can be valuable feedback to both you and the students. If most of the students rate their confidence as “high”, then maybe you need to increase the level of challenge in the course, If students indicate they have low confidence, then you might need to adjust the pace of the course or make some other modifications that can bolster student confidence with what they are learning.
- Monitoring Questions
- Can also provide valuable feedback to instructors and students. For example, asking how long an assignment took, or checking in with students to see where they are with completing an assignment.