Introduction A study was once conducted to find out how teachers ask questions. This was observed in a Grade 6 science class. A tape recorder was hidden under the demonstration table. She conducted a discussion of the lesson for forty minutes. She was able to ask 29 questions, all of which are of the “what type”. Maybe they were all answered. They were simple recall. But has the teacher helped develop the pupils thinking skills?
The kind of questions we ask determine the level of thinking we develop. Low level questions demand low level responses. They require responses of the simple recall or memory type of answers. Examples: What was the temperature range yesterday? What insect transmits dengue fever? What part of a plant serves as its factory?
High level questions call for higher-coder thinking ability. “Why” and “how” questions require analysis of observations. The conclusions is arrived at after weighing evidence or establishing a pattern out of a recorded tabulation of data. Examples: Why does temperature continue to rise from early morning till about noontime? How does the hydrologic cycle occur? A question is taken as a request for information. It is simply an inquiry about something.
In teaching, it takes the form of a problem at the start of a n investigation or query about a current issue such as time or classroom management. It is a statement that demands an explanation, a purpose or an argument. A daily lesson seldom without even a single question. It is the question, stated in any form that unlocks thinking. Hence, it is integral in the teaching practice.
Types of Question according to Purpose The kind of question we ask varies according to purpose. Here are some:
For Assessing Cognition This type of question is used to determined one’s knowledge in understanding. They promote high level thinking. Divergent questions and open-ended inquiries call for analysis and evaluation. Example: what is likely to happen if the ozone layer of the atmosphere continues to deteriorate sound heard louder when under water than out of it.
For Verification It determines the exactness or accuracy of the result of an activity or performance. Example: was the weight of liquid displace exactly the same as the weight of the object immersed in it? Why is lightning seen before the thunder is heard?
For Creative Thinking It probes into one’s originality. Example: how will you present the layers of the earth to your class? Simulate the eruption of Mt. Mayon. The question may ask for pupils 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 and choice. It also asks personal opinion about an event, a policy or a person. Example: was your teachers slide presentation well done?
For Productive Thinking It includes cognitive reasoning. It analyses facts, recognizes patterns or trends and invokes memory and recall. Example: why was our fourth secretary of the department of agriculture successful with the small landowners? How can we apply the law of conservation of energy?
For Motivating Before discussing the lessons, a number of questions about the topic can serve to arouse their interest and focus attention. In attempts to put students in the right mood. Example: would you like to know how your favorite flower can remain fresh longer? Did you ever train a 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?
Types of Question according to level / Answer As to level, question can either below or higher level.
Low level Questions They include memory questions or those that require simple recall. Example: Define energy. State the first Law of Motion.
High Level Questions These questions call for a respondent’s ability to analyze, evaluate and solve problems. Examples: What is the relation between the distance of a planet and its period of revolution? Why does temperature rise towards noontime?
Divergent Questions They require the respondent to think in” different directions”, to think of alternative actions or to arrive at own decision. There are several possible answers. Example: Why are you voting for him? What will happen if you leave it under direct sunlight for a week?
Questioning Skills Class interaction is dependent on your questioning skills. What skills should you acquire to generate interaction 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 judgementconcerning 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 sufficient for “what” questions and about 5 to 10 seconds for “why” and “how questions. Usually there is a need to revise or improve the questions of it proves difficult at the moment. This is a second wait time. A long pause would encourage the second wait time. A longer pause would encourage the students to continue thinking, In most cases they are able to think of the best answer. The follow-up questions can lead to extended ideas instead of short memory questions.
Providing sufficient wait time can achieve the following: *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 to improve one’s questioning technique.
Request a colleague to critique your own style as to: a.) kind of questions often asked, b.) the type of responses required. Knowing your errors in questioning would make it easy to effect the necessary changes. Too many “what” questions will be avoided.
Increase your own repertoire of type questions. Training on employing divergent, high level and open-ended questions improves your questioning technique. Fully aware of the instructional objectives set for a particular lesson, you would be able to frame more interesting and thought-provoking questions rather than the memory type.
Consider the individual abilities and interest of the students. Experiencing success in giving corrects answers promotes a feeling of confidence among them. Select the brighter ones to respond to high level questions. An approving nod, a smile or praise for an answer given will encourage them to volunteer own ideas.
Spend time reflecting on the type of questions you ask. Improve on them.
How To Encourage Question from Students Children are by nature curious. They think question about almost anything they see and hear around them. They ask casual, intelligent and even funny questions. Neil Postman said, “they come to school as question marks” but unfortunately “leave school as periods”.
The teacher’s reaction to their inquisitiveness can motivate or discourage them from asking more question. Some may give honest answer, others may instantly stop them from attempting to ask more. How can we encourage children to ask question? Here are some tips: 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. Attend to their question. Avoid dismissing irrelevant questions. Assist in clarifying or refocusing in order to solicit correct responses.
Praise the correctly formulated questions. It develops confidence and makes knowledge search easy and satisfying. Allot an appropriate time slot for open questioning. This will encourage the slow thinker to participate freely.