Those two words (or any variation) make me dread the seconds that follow. Sometimes someone asks a question and I’m relieved that I’m not going to be left at the front of the room feeling like I offered a hand shake and nobody shook it back; a little awkward. So, we’re there at the front of the room or online doing some synchronous training and we ask: are there any questions? Current training trends suggest that you wait 9 seconds before moving on to give students time to catch up and formulate a question. But that isn’t even the issue I’m talking about here today.
Today, I am suggesting that we don’t even want to ask “are there any questions?”. Maybe the students will tell us, within 9 seconds, that they don’t have questions. OK. Asked and answered. However, if truth be told, I want more than a yes or a no answer. I want a conversation. I want a little back and forth with the students. So, instead of asking a question that may cut off any future discussion, try one of these 5 open-ended questions posed by Rebecca Alber of edutopia.org and an instructor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education.
- What do you think? This question is designed to get input from the class and is not a yes or no question. Yea!
- Why do you think that? This question is designed to make sure the student knows how or why they came to their answer.
- How do you know this? This question might elicit examples from experience.
- Can you tell me more? Need I say more about this question?
- What questions do you still have? This question is designed to loop back around to the beginning or stir up new questions about what was just discussed (hopefully, there was a discussion).