CIRTL: The gentle art of questioning


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Questioning is a central part of student assessment and quizzing, but it can also be a powerful learning tool. In this interactive workshop, we’ll explore research-based tips and ideas for achieving the full benefit of questioning. Effective use of common questioning tools -- clickers and discussion boards -- will be discussed as a means to achieve student engagement and deep learning.

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  • How do you feel about asking students questions in class?How many times have you given a lecture and found that students hadn’t followed you?Can you rely on students to ask questions if they don’t understand something?Can you rely on students to know if they don’t understand something?So, what are the benefits of questioning?Why do you think people don’t question more?
  • During each section, ask people for examples of questions that they wrote that fall into this category. Give clicker booklet for responding.Point out the handout where each one is detailed more.
  • Model each one of these. What are some ways to ask questions? One is to ask rhetorically.Class, what’s another way to ask a question? Target the whole class.John, what’s another way? Target someone else.Are there other ways to ask a question? Let’s think about it. Target class: verbally, clickers, other waysTarget someone in particular: randomly, in seating order, call on particular personWait and then…. Call on volunteers, call on someone who hasn’t volunteered, answer own question
  • Everything but synthesis
  • Questions threaten studentsI get no volunteers to answerStudents don’t talk to each otherAnswers take me off trackTakes too much time
  • What comes first? Learning goals.
  • Instructor circulates, may need to show that you’re serious
  • Usually one second. Trained to wait 3-5 seconds. Students tend to speak in bursts with 3-5 seconds between bursts: Wait time of 1 second interrupts these bursts.
  • Students take writing for each other, and the web, more seriously than writing for instructorDon’t make it into busywork, then it’s a pretend audience and not motivating.Gardner Campbell (Virginia Tech) school of blogging:
  • Shop for ideas
  • Weigh advantages of covering more material against checking comprehension and actively involving students. It’s challenging. How a teacher does this determines how well it works. NO RESPONSE: Wait longer. Rephrase the question. Give a hint. Have students discuss. Call on someone. Leave unanswered. SAME PEOPLE: Someone other than X. Ask an easier question and call on new volunteer. Be alert to non-verbal cues. Make it clear that participation required. IF ANSWERS CALLED OUT: Ask it others agree. Ask for other answers. Ask students to think for a minute. Turn away to signal time for thought. Ask to write answers down. IF TAKE TOO LONG: Interrupt and summarize. Set boundaries and expectations. WRONG ANSWER: Break down question so others can see error. Ask for comments. Ask for other answers. Find merit in answer and explain why common mistake.
  • CIRTL: The gentle art of questioning

    1. 1. The Gentle Art of Questioning<br />Clickers and other tech tools for student engagement<br />Dr. Stephanie V. Chasteen <br />Physics Department <br />& <br />Science Education Initiative<br />Univ. of Colorado at Boulder<br /><br />Web and blog:<br />Email:<br />
    2. 2. Who are you? <br />STEM faculty <br />Administrator<br />Faculty professional development staff <br />Education researcher<br />Graduate student or post-doc<br />Other<br />Show of hands<br />
    3. 3. How many years have you been teaching?<br />3<br />I haven’t taught yet<br />1-5 years<br />6-10 years<br />Longer than I can remember<br />I don’t teach anymore<br /> Colored cards<br />Move into groups?<br />
    4. 4. Have you used response systems (clickers) in your teaching?<br /> Take a clicker & turn it on<br /> If the green light flashes, your<br />vote has been counted<br />Not at all<br />I’ve seen them used but not yet used them<br />I’ve used them a little<br />I’ve used them a lot<br />I could be (should be?) giving this workshop<br />
    5. 5. Introducing Me<br />5<br />Science Education Initiative<br /><br />Applying scientific principles to improve science education – What are students learning, and which instructional approaches improve learning?<br />Physics Education Research Group<br /><br />One of largest PER groups in nation, studying technology, attitudes, classroom practice, & institutional change.<br />Blogger<br /><br />
    6. 6. Why question?<br />How many times have you given a lecture and found that students hadn’t followed you?<br />Can you rely on students to ask questions if they don’t understand something?<br />Can you rely on students to know if they don’t understand something?<br />What are the benefits of questioning?<br /> Notes #1<br />6<br />whiteboard<br />Credit: Rosie Piller<br />
    7. 7.
    8. 8. The toughest thing about asking questions in class is…<br />Writing good questions<br />Getting students to really think about them<br />Getting students to answer the questions / Nobody responds<br />The same students always respond / Not everybody responds<br />It takes too long / I have a lot of content to cover<br />
    9. 9. Agenda<br />When and how we can ask questions<br />About clickers as a way to ask questions<br />Challenges and best practices in using clickers, discussion boards, and in-class questioning<br />Writing good questions<br />Action plan<br />9<br />Learning goals: Participants will be able to….<br />Explain several benefits of questioning and of using clickers to question<br />Defend the use of best practices in questioning to overcome common challenges<br />Formulate an action plan for questioning that is suitable to their teaching context<br />
    10. 10. Warm-up exercise: Questions in your content<br />What questions could you ask to help students achieve your assigned learning goal -- to test mastery and stimulate learning?<br />Brainstorm as a group<br />10<br />5 minutes<br />whiteboard<br />
    11. 11. WHEN to ask? Questioning Cycle<br />11<br />BEFORE<br />Setting up instruction<br />Motivate<br />Check knowledge/comprehension<br />Discover<br />Application<br />Predict-and-show<br />Analysis<br />Provoke thinking<br />DURING<br />Developing knowledge<br />Assess prior knowledge<br />“Big picture”<br />Evaluation<br />Demonstrate success<br />Synthesis<br />Review / Recap<br />Elicit misconception<br />Exit poll<br />AFTER <br />Assessing learning<br />Exercise skill<br />Credit: Rosie Piller and Ian Beatty. <br />
    12. 12. Some methods of asking questions<br />12<br />Ask rhetorically<br />Target the class (how?)<br />Target someone in particular (in what order?)<br />Wait and then… (call on whom?)<br />Answer your own question<br />Leave the question unanswered<br />Or ask out of class<br />Blogs<br />Discussion boards<br />Homework…<br /> Notes #2<br />My favorite:<br /><ul><li>Target entire class
    13. 13. Wait
    14. 14. Vote with clickers
    15. 15. Call on volunteers
    16. 16. Encourage responses</li></ul>Credit: Rosie Piller<br />
    17. 17. Why use clickers to target the class? An outline of Peer Instruction. <br />13<br />
    18. 18. 14<br />But not a magic bullet!<br />Clickers are a tool for questioning<br />
    19. 19. 15<br /> Notes #3<br />Ask Question<br />(Maybe vote)<br />…Lecture…<br />Peer Discussion<br />Class Discussion<br />Vote<br />* See also: Peer Instruction, A User’s Manual. E. Mazur. <br />Anatomy of Peer Instruction<br />
    20. 20. How is a clicker question the same or different?*<br />16<br />* From other types of in-class questions<br />Similar in terms of goals<br />Multiple choice<br />Anonymous (to peers)<br />Every student has a voice – the loud ones and the shy ones<br />Forced wait time<br />You can withhold the answer until everyone has had time to think (choose when to show the histogram)<br /> Notes #4<br />What does this tool help us to do?<br />
    21. 21. Which of these could be clicker questions?<br />BEFORE<br />Setting up instruction<br />Motivate<br />Check knowledge/comprehension<br />Discover<br />Application<br />Predict-and-show<br />Analysis<br />Provoke thinking<br />DURING<br />Developing knowledge<br />Assess prior knowledge<br />“Big picture”<br />Evaluation<br />Demonstrate success<br />Synthesis<br />Review / Recap<br />Elicit misconception<br />Exit poll<br />AFTER <br />Assessing learning<br />Exercise skill<br />Credit: Rosie Piller and Ian Beatty. <br />
    22. 22. U. Colorado clicker resources…<br />18<br />Videos of effective use of clickers<br />2-5 mins long<br /><br />Clicker resource page<br /><br /><ul><li> Instructor’s Guide
    23. 23. Question banks
    24. 24. Workshops
    25. 25. Literature / Articles</li></li></ul><li>Let’s try it<br />19<br />Which superpower would you <br />rather have? The ability to…<br />Change the mass of things<br />Change the charge of things<br />Change the magnetization of things<br />Change the boiling point of things<br />19<br />Question: Ian Beatty, UNC Greensboro Image: Thibaultfr on Wikimedia<br />
    26. 26. 20<br />Example question: Math<br />Your sister in law calls to say that she’s having twins. Which of the following is the most likely? (Assume she’s having fraternal, not identical, twins)<br />Twin boys<br />Twin girls<br />One girl and one boy<br />All are equally likely<br />Derek Bruff, Vanderbilt<br />
    27. 27. Example question: Survey<br />If you were walking down a road and passed a piece of trash, would you pick it up?<br />Yes<br />No<br />It depends<br />vaguely recollected from a question described by Kate Dollard, Northampton HS<br />
    28. 28. What could possibly go wrong?<br />You ask students a question, and ask them to discuss.<br />You then ask them to share their answers and reasoning in a whole-class discussion<br />What could possibly go wrong? <br />22<br />Exercise #1<br />7 mins<br />In groups of 3-5 brainstorm some of the challenges you imagine, or outstanding questions. <br />Organize into challenges regarding (1) writing/asking questions, (2) peer discussion, (3) explaining the answer and (4) other. <br />What is a possible solution?<br />
    29. 29. 23<br />23<br />1. Ask Question<br /> Notes #5<br />What are some challenges/ things to consider when posing a clicker question?<br /><ul><li>Ask several times during lecture
    30. 30. Ask challenging, meaningful questions
    31. 31. Don’t post until ready
    32. 32. Give time to read (read silently)
    33. 33. Don’t read question out loud</li></ul>Handout/worksheet / whiteboard<br />
    34. 34. 2. Peer Discussion<br />24<br /> Notes #6<br /><ul><li> Students learn more deeply by </li></ul> teaching each other<br /><ul><li> Makes them articulate answer
    35. 35. Lets you see inside their heads</li></ul>Why is peer discussion important?<br />What are challenges / <br />how can you help make it work?<br /><ul><li>Make it clear why you’re doing this
    36. 36. Circulate and ask questions / model
    37. 37. Use questions they want to discuss
    38. 38. Allow enough time (2-5 mins)</li></li></ul><li>3. Wrap-Up Discussion<br />25<br /> Notes #7<br />Challenges?<br />What might you do to facilitate an effective wrap-up discussion?<br /><ul><li>Establish culture of respect
    39. 39. Consider whether to show the </li></ul> histogram immediately<br /><ul><li> Ask multiple students to defend their </li></ul> answers<br /><ul><li> Why are wrong answers wrong and </li></ul> why right answer is right<br />
    40. 40. Effects of increased wait time<br />26<br />Changes in student behavior:<br />More students respond<br />More students respond without being asked (unsolicited)<br />Student responses are longer<br />More alternative explanations are offered<br />Student confidence increases<br />There are more speculative responses<br />Students ask more questions<br />Other changes (on teacher!)<br />Quantity of questions decreased<br />Quality of questions increased<br />Expectations of slower students were revised<br />Teacher reactions to answers were more appropriate<br />All from a few more seconds!<br />Rowe, Mary Budd (1974)<br />
    41. 41. 27<br />Giving the answer stops student thinking!<br />
    42. 42. Discussion boards / blogs<br />The motivation question: How do you encourage students to participate? How do you create an authentic audience? How do you make this an integrated and motivating part of the course?<br />Make expectations for participation clear<br />Provide incentive (intrinsic better than extrinsic) for reading and writing<br />Post interesting questions<br /> Notes #8<br />Search Derek Bruff’s blog for “Randy Bass” and/or “social pedagogies”<br />
    43. 43. We’re going to practice writing questions now<br />Remember those questions from the warm-up?<br />In groups of 3-4, choose one (quickly) that you will write a multiple choice version of<br />1 minute<br />
    44. 44. Gallery Walk<br />Read briefly over the “tips for writing clicker questions” handout. Which is going to be most challenging for you?<br />As a table, look at the “example questions” trio that I have given you. What’s a common theme(s)? Write the themes down on the sheet.<br /> Notes #9<br />When you’re done, circulate to see the themes of questions on other tables.<br />Shop for ideas for your own questions!<br />5 minutes<br />
    45. 45. Exercise #2: Multiple choice questions<br />31<br />In groups of ~3, pick a question from the Warm Up exercise, and write a multiple choice version of it.<br />If you have time, write another question from another part of the questioning cycle!<br />7 minutes<br />
    46. 46. Action Plan<br />Take a few minutes to write down your action plan to implement ideas you heard about in the workshop<br />32<br />
    47. 47. References & Resources<br /><br />(will have handouts)<br />Web and blog:<br />Email:<br />Clicker Resource Page from the Science Education Initiative: Has clicker question banks (in the sciences), an instructors’ guide, and videos of classroom use. Useful books (such as Eric Mazur’s Peer Instruction are cited there.<br />Workshop handouts will be uploaded to the above website. <br />Many materials in this workshop (particularly the questioning cycle and the participant exercises) were adapted fromRosie Piller, Making Students Think: The Art of Questioning. Short papers published in: Computer Training & Support Conference, 1995; ISPI International Conferences, 1991 and 1996; ASTD National Conference on Technical & Skills Training, 1990. Related workshop description at<br />Other materials (particularly sample clicker questions and goals of clicker questions) adapted from Ian Beatty’s Technology Enhanced Formative Assessment (TEFA) program.<br />Cited research:<br />Rowe, Mary Budd. “Wait-time and rewards as instructional variables… ” Journal of Research on Science Teaching, vol. 11 (2), pp. 81-94, 1974.<br />Thanks!<br />
    48. 48. Learning Goals<br />Biology: Recognize the components of a cell and describe why each is necessary for the function of a cell<br />Physics: Identify the different ways that light can interact with an object (i.e., transmitted, absorbed, reflected).<br />Chemistry: Explain trends in boiling points in terms of intermolecular interactions<br />Earth science: Understand the formation of the three major types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and the processes by which they form, relating them by the rock cycle.<br />Math: Solve a system of linear equations in two variables using algebra or graphing.<br />
    49. 49. What Do I do if…?<br />What can you do if you ask questions and..<br />There is no response<br />The same people keep raising their hands<br />The answers are called out before everyone has a chance to think<br />The answers take too long<br />Someone gives a wrong answer<br />Only some students are prepared<br />?<br />35<br />We’ll discuss in Workshop #2.<br />For now: Many of these challenges are addressed by clickers<br />