Effective Questioning and Reacting Techniques (Rowena M. Tivoli)“Children go to school as question marks and leave school asperiods.” Neil Postman
Focus Question:•For a highly interactive class, what are the various typesof questions asked?•What are some questioning skills that teachers shoulddevelop to generate interaction?•How can a teacher improve his/her questioning skills?•What are some effective reacting techniques?
Introduction A study was once conducted to find out how teachersask questions. This was observed in a Grade 6 scienceclass. A tape recorder was hidden under thedemonstration table. She conducted a discussion of thelesson for forty minutes. She was able to ask 29questions, all of which are of the “what type”. Maybethey were all answered. They were simple recall. But hasthe teacher helped develop the pupils thinking skills?
The kind of questions we ask determine thelevel of thinking we develop. Low level questionsdemand low level responses. They requireresponses of the simple recall or memory type ofanswers. Examples: What was the temperature rangeyesterday? What insect transmits dengue fever?What part of a plant serves as its factory?
High level questions call for higher-coderthinking ability. “Why” and “how” questions requireanalysis of observations. The conclusions is arrived atafter weighing evidence or establishing a pattern out ofa recorded tabulation of data. Examples: Why does temperature continue torise from early morning till about noontime? Howdoes the hydrologic cycle occur? A question istaken as a request for information. It is simply aninquiry about something.
In teaching, it takes the form of a problem at thestart of a n investigation or query about a current issuesuch as time or classroom management. It is a statementthat demands an explanation, a purpose or an argument.A daily lesson seldom without even a single question. It isthe question, stated in any form that unlocks thinking.Hence, it is integral in the teaching practice.
The kind of question we ask varies according topurpose. Here are some:
For Assessing Cognition This type of question is used to determined one’sknowledge in understanding. They promote high levelthinking. Divergent questions and open-ended inquiriescall for analysis and evaluation. Example: what is likely tohappen if the ozone layer of the atmosphere continues todeteriorate sound heard louder when under water thanout of it.
For Verification It determines the exactness or accuracy of theresult of an activity or performance. Example: wasthe weight of liquid displace exactly the same as theweight of the object immersed in it? Why is lightningseen before the thunder is heard?
For Creative Thinking It probes into one’s originality. Example: how willyou present the layers of the earth to your class? Simulatethe eruption of Mt. Mayon. The question may ask forpupils own ideas or new ways of doing things. Example:how can you demonstrate soil-less gardening?
For Evaluating It elicit responses that include judgment, value andchoice. It also asks personal opinion about an event, apolicy or a person. Example: was your teachers slidepresentation well done?
For Productive Thinking It includes cognitive reasoning. It analyses facts,recognizes patterns or trends and invokes memory andrecall. Example: why was our fourth secretary of thedepartment of agriculture successful with the smalllandowners? How can we apply the law of conservation ofenergy?
For Motivating Before discussing the lessons, a number ofquestions about the topic can serve to arouse their interestand focus attention. In attempts to put students in theright mood. Example: would you like to know how yourfavorite flower can remain fresh longer? Did you ever traina pet?
For Instructing The questions asks for useful information. It directs,guides and advise on what and how to do an activity.Example: what are the steps in performing an experiment?
As to level, question can either below orhigher level.
Low level Questions They include memory questions or those thatrequire simple recall. Example: Define energy. State thefirst Law of Motion.
High Level Questions These questions call for a respondent’s ability toanalyze, evaluate and solve problems. Examples: What isthe relation between the distance of a planet and its periodof revolution? Why does temperature rise towardsnoontime?
Divergent Questions They require the respondent to think in” differentdirections”, to think of alternative actions or to arrive atown decision. There are several possible answers.Example: Why are you voting for him? What will happen ifyou leave it under direct sunlight for a week?
Questioning Skills Class interaction is dependent on your questioningskills. What skills should you acquire to generateinteraction among your student?
• Varying type of question – ask convergent, divergent and evaluating question. Convergent questions Convergent questions have only one acceptable correct answer. An example is “what is the process of food manucfacture that takes place in plant called?” Divergent question are open and may have more than acceptable answer. Example: “how can the government most effectively enforce law against water pollution?” an evaluate question requires judgement concerning the subject focus. Example: What is your evaluation of our manner of election in the country?
• Asking non directing question - Pose the question first, then call on a student to answer. Don’t direct your question to just one students. Direct the question to all.
• Call in non-volunteers – Don’t just call on those who raise their hands.• Rephrasing - if you sense a question was not understood, simplify it or ask it in another way.• Sequencing logically- it is asking related questions one from simple to complex one after another.
• Requiring abstract thinking- This means going beyond simple recall questions. Examples of questions that require abstract thinking is “What meaning can you derive from the data presented in the graph? What generalization can you draw from the data presented?
• Asking open-ended questions- this means asking divergent questions to develop higher- order thinking skills.• Allowing for sufficient wait time- Wait time refers to the pause needed by the teachers after asking a question. This is the time when she waits for an answer. A number of things to consider are: a.) the level of difficulty of the questions, b.) the type of response required, c.) the background knowledge of the respondents and d.) the intellectual ability of the respondents.
An average of 2 to 5 seconds is sufficientfor “what” questions and about 5 to 10 seconds for“why” and “how questions. Usually there is a need to revise or improvethe questions of it proves difficult at the moment. Thisis a second wait time. A long pause would encouragethe second wait time. A longer pause would encouragethe students to continue thinking, In most cases theyare able to think of the best answer. The follow-upquestions can lead to extended ideas instead of shortmemory questions.
Providing sufficient wait time can achieve thefollowing: *Motivates slow thinking students to respond *Improves the quality of the responses made *Decreases the amount of guessing or wrong inferences *Increases the number of correct responses’
*Leads the teacher to vary her questions*Provides the time for the teachers to evaluate the answers given.*Encourages the students to ask their own questions. Give students enough time to think about the answers.
• Assessing comprehension- ask questions to test comprehension. Now and then find out if your students are with you.• Involving as many as possible- distribute your questions to as many students. Widen participation. Don’t just call on students on students who raise their hands. By their facial expressions, you can sense who among your students would like to recite.
How to improve Questioning Technique The following are some points to consider toimprove one’s questioning technique.
• Know your own style of questioning• Request a colleague to critique your own style asto: a.) kind of questions often asked, b.) the type of responsesrequired. Knowing your errors in questioning would make iteasy to effect the necessary changes. Too many “what”questions will be avoided.• Increase your own repertoire of type questions. Training onemploying divergent, high level and open-ended questionsimproves your questioning technique. Fully aware of theinstructional objectives set for a particular lesson, you wouldbe able to frame more interesting and thought-provokingquestions rather than the memory type.
• Consider the individual abilities and interest of the students.Experiencing success in giving corrects answers promotes afeeling of confidence among them. Select the brighter ones torespond to high level questions. An approving nod, a smile orpraise for an answer given will encourage them to volunteer ownideas.• Spend time reflecting on the type of questions you ask.Improve on them.
Children are by nature curious. They thinkquestion about almost anything they see and hear aroundthem. They ask casual, intelligent and even funnyquestions. Neil Postman said, “they come to school asquestion marks” but unfortunately “leave school asperiods”.
The teacher’s reaction to their inquisitiveness canmotivate or discourage them from asking more question. Somemay give honest answer, others may instantly stop them fromattempting to ask more. How can we encourage children to askquestion? Here are some tips: 1) The teacher’s questioning technique is the key in encouraging students to ask correct, relevant and high level question. Her question can serve as a good examples. 2) Attend to their question. Avoid dismissing irrelevant questions. Assist in clarifying or refocusing in order to solicit correct responses.
3) Praise the correctly formulated questions. It develops confidence and makes knowledge search easy and satisfying.4) Allot an appropriate time slot for open questioning. This will encourage the slow thinker to participate freely.