Time requirements: Varies
Special features: Questions are the simplest form of interactive teaching tool. They are useful in any discipline. They can help make students active learners and gauge their level of interest and comprehension.
- 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 answer 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 on the board. This supports continued participation.
- 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 commenter 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.