Teaching Students The Art Of Questioning: Challenges & Strategies

Teaching Students The Art Of Questioning: Challenges & Strategies

“In the face of such rapid and exponential change, no one can rely solely on experience and accumulated knowledge. Content mastery is not a static state but an evolving and lifelong process.

In part 1 of this post, we covered the WHY behind developing this skill.

With access to information more than ever before it has become difficult for the students to gather knowledge. Also, the never-ending resources often left them confused with the concepts. This leads to discussions with the educators but more than often educators find students asking irrelevant questions.  

In here the thinking skills play a crucial role that I spoke of in my last post along the theory of constructivism and how it is essential to help students cultivate the skills of thinking and communication in order to come out with better and smart questions.

For this article, I am mentioning the challenges that are faced by the educators in the process of helping student evolve to be better questioners and what strategies can actually help you in practicing the same.

The challenge that comes before having your students understand and practice the art of question is to make them comfortable with asking questions. Students are usually fearful of asking questions in class due to various reasons be it the fear of being wrong, getting reprimanded by the teacher or other. However, as educators it falls as a responsibility to help students get out of their shell and be engaged and interact in the class. So the following tips are to help you with the initial challenges in regard to help students be open to raise question without fear!

- To accept that one doesn’t know something in front of peers can be a little scary for children. It can make them feel less than the other so the first step is to help your students understand that IT IS OKAY TO NOT KNOW.

Help them understand that not knowing things is the beginning of gathering knowledge and hence there is no shame associated with asking things one is not aware of.

- Every question asked leads to learning be it knowing what one should ask and what not. In the same manner it is essential that teachers appreciate when students start to participate in class. Also, observing the curiosity levels of the younger children can help the educator in understanding the child better.

- Rewards work like magic. And you know that yourself!

Educators must praise the questions that are bi8ng asked in the classroom. And this should not only include the on-target, penetrating ones, but also the more expansive, sometimes-offbeat ones.

Help create a path for students to get from a question to a meaningful result. The point is to show that if one is willing to spend time on a question -- to not just Google it but grapple with it, share it with others, and build on it -- that question can ultimately lead to something rewarding and worthwhile.

Once you have students who are open to question without hesitation you work on helping them with raising quality questions or practice the art of questioning. As we are aware that to raise a question we first need to identify the subject or situation so that we can raise apt and intelligent questions.

To help all, The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development identified four types of situations, each with its own characteristics: complex situations, problem situations, decision situations, and implementation situations. Each situation also requires a different path toward resolution. I believe these question-based problem-solving strategies; one for each situation derived by ASCD will be of great help to help students.  

The pointers below will help you with understand these strategies; namely, SCAN, FIND, SELECT, and PLAN.

1. Complex Situation

This situation is defined as multifaceted scenarios have multiple variables and opinions.

-Strategy is to SCAN

See the issues

Clarify the issues

Assess priorities

Name next steps

- This requires the students to follow the steps mentioned above after identifying the situation. It includes Understanding of relevant variables, their priorities, and possible action plans.

2. Problem Situation

This situation is defined wherein something has gone wrong or an unknown cause has produced some undesired effect.

- Strategy is to FIND

Focus on the problem

Identify what is and is not

Narrow possible causes

Determine true cause

- This requires analysis of relevant data to evaluate possible causes and determine true cause.

3. Decision Situation

The situation requires you to opt one course of action or solution among several possible options.

- The strategy is to SELECT

State the decision

Establish and classify objectives

List alternatives

Evaluate alternatives

Consider risks

Trust your work—pick a winner!

- This requires selection of the best possible option after evaluating options against criteria and then considering risks.

4. Implementation Situation

The situation is defined where there are upcoming plans, changes, and actions will be implemented.

-The strategy is to PLAN.

Predict potential problems

List likely causes

Agree on preventive actions

Note contingent actions

-This requires Identification of actions needed for successful implementation after identifying potential problems and how to handle them.

To understand these strategies better I suggest you to go through the practical examples of these being practiced by educators that highlights the complete course of action and the results derived.

Another recommended read is by TeachThought on "Strategies To Help Students Ask Great Questions”.

Hop on to this link for some other amazing strategies that can help you with making sure that your students develop the habit of asking smart question. This list mentions of some easy, kick start strategies that will be easier to implement.   

And the last golden tip is to REFLECT. It is essential that students reflect on their questions or other practices as to improve every day. So educators make sure you make them understand the importance of the same.   

What is your take on the art of questioning? 

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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