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Using questions in in teaching and learning teaching and learning Peter Scales Lifelong Learning Further and Higher Education

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1 Using questions in in teaching and learning teaching and learning Peter Scales Lifelong Learning Further and Higher Education

2 Research (in schools) suggests : Teachers ask up to two questions every minute, up to 400 in a day, 70,000 a year and 2-3 million during the course of a career Questioning accounts for up to a third of all teaching time, second only to the time devoted to explanation. What is a ‘question’?

3 Why do teachers ask questions? Management and control Keep learners interested and alert Gain attention/ check paying attention Check understand and pitch lessons at an appropriate level Recall of information Revise

4 Why do teachers ask questions? Develop thinking skills Encourage discussion Encourage discovery Stimulate new ideas Draw learners into the lesson Symbolic value - sends message that learners are expected to be active participants in learning

5 Closed questions Usually only one correct answer Can usually be answered with one word – usually yes or no The initiative is forced back on the questioner. No need for answerer to extend or develop Example: “Do you come here often?”

6 Open questions May have several possible answers Requires the answerer to provide a fuller response than just one word Can develop discussion and develop thinking Example: “What’s a nice person like you doing in a dump like this?”

7 Question invites ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer Question invites a particular answer Question is focused but gives some choice about how to respond Question gives maximum choice about how to respond ClosedOpen Have you finished your work yet? What is the capital of Mongolia? How did you set this project up? What should we focus on next?

8 Lower-order and higher order questions Lower-order questions Higher-order questions Require learners to remember Require learners to think

9 Linked (or Socratic) questioning This style of questioning is based on the belief that people already know a lot. The purpose of education is to draw it out of them. “Socratic questions provide a stimulus for thinking and responding, and Socratic questioning differs from random open-ended questioning in that it follows a pattern, a progression of follow-through questions that probe reasons and assumptions and which take the enquiry further” Fisher, R. (2003)

10 Linked? Socratic questioning – an example Why is there a cliffhanger at the end of a soap opera?  To make sure people keep watching Why is it important that people keep watching?  To maintain high viewing figures Why do TV companies need high viewing figures?  To attract advertisers What do advertisers provide?  Income And what do the TV companies do with the income?  Make more programmes

11 Examples of questions to develop Socratic dialogue “Can you explain that…”?Explaining “How does that help…?”Supporting “Do you have evidence…?”Evidence “What if someone were to suggest that…?”Alternative views “Does it agree with what was said earlier…?” Consistency “How does what was said/ the question help us…?”Connecting For more examples see handout

12 Using Bloom’s taxonomy to encourage different levels of questioning (2) Application Comprehension Knowledge In what year was the Russian Revolution? What happens when you put salt on ice? Can you explain what a modem does?

13 Using Bloom’s taxonomy to encourage different levels of questioning (1) Synthesis Analysis Evaluation What do the results of your experiment tell you? How effectively does Hardy evoke nature? How can we combine these ideas?

14 Geoff Petty’s ‘Ten Commandments’ 1. Do you ask questions which learners can answer successfully? 2. Do you leave time for students to think? 3. Do you use body language (eye contact; smiling; raising the eyebrows; nodding, etc.) to encourage responses? 4. Do you always praise or otherwise acknowledge correct responses? 5. Do you avoid ridiculing students’ answers?

15 Geoff Petty’s ‘Ten Commandments’ 6. Do you ask questions that cover the subject step by step? 7. Do you make questions short and clear, using straightforward language? 8. Do you avoid questions with yes or no answers? 9. Are able to distribute questions widely around the class? 10. Do you use language that is easily understood?

16 “Good learning starts with questions, not answers.” “Asking good questions is the basis for becoming a successful learner. If children [and adults] aren’t asking questions they’re being spoon-fed. That might be effective in terms of getting results, but it won’t turn out curious, flexible learners suited to the 21st century.” (Professor Guy Claxton, Bristol University) Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon. (E.M. Forster)

17 What’s wrong with these questions? “What did I just say?” “Don’t you think you ought to know this?” “Alright?” “Did everyone get that?” “Can you have this done before Easter?” “In what ways is the situation in Iraq a disaster?” “Why is daytime television so poor?” “How many of you know the answer to this?” “What are the government’s reasons for the introduction of 90 day detention for terrorist suspects and how have people argued against them?” “Was Romeo a wimp?”

18 References Fisher, R (2003) Teaching Thinking (2 nd Ed.) London: Continuum Petty, G. (1998) Teaching Today (2 nd Ed.) Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Scales, P. (2008) Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector Maidenhead: Open University Press

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