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Questions Anyone?

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.

  1. What do you think? This question is designed to get input from the class and is not a yes or no question. Yea!
  2. Why do you think that? This question is designed to make sure the student knows how or why they came to their answer.
  3. How do you know this? This question might elicit examples from experience.
  4. Can you tell me more? Need I say more about this question?
  5. 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).