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How can I create the right questions?

Discovering how to create questions and how to lead students in constructing questions that will help them learn

Brenda Wilusz

on 5 March 2013

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Transcript of How can I create the right questions?

That's just the tip of the iceberg! How Can I Ask the Right Questions to Help Students Learn? Ever throw out what you know is a great question, only to feel like Ferris Bueller's econ prof? It happens to all of us. But it doesn't
have to be...
Remember Socrates? utilitarianism.com "…five particular strategies Socrates used:
• asked probing questions about the ideas
and issues being discussed;
• asked expansive questions about the
relationships among ideas;
• utilized the devil’s advocate role and
other comic relief;
• spent time on group maintenance and
the group process; and
• took advantage of positions and roles
taken on by others in the discussion."

Gose (2009) More expert advice on creating questions: Avoid spinning your wheels with questions:
• Do not ask a question to hear yourself talk.
• Do not mislead your students by asking questions about material you consider trivial.
• Avoid yes or no questions.
• Phrase questions so that the task is clear.
• Avoid vague questions.
• Ask questions about material and issues you consider important.
• Work from questions that require more concrete thinking to questions that require more analytical, synthetic, and evaluative thinking.

Killen (2010) Another strategy:
Simultaneous Reporting This strategy resembles the oft-used “think/pair/share" tool used by many teachers, but the difference is the somewhat competitive nature of pitting groups against each other in defending specific positions selected by the group
from a list offered by the teacher. The creaters claim that having student groups discuss and select an answer and simultaneously visually displaying their answers prevents “answer drift", or groups
adapting or changing their answers as their turn to speak comes up. The audience for the persuasive message of the group is the other students, not the teacher.

Sweet, et al (2008) People who write
surveys say there are
3 phases in questioning: “understanding a question, retrieving
or constructing an answer, and reporting
the answer using the specified format”

Schaeffer & Presser (2003) Beware: "Respondents may frame their answers based on their perceptions of what they think the listener wants to hear. By the same token, the person asking the question may assume certain characteristics about the respondent based on the way the question is answered or the speed with which the answer is supplied."

Schaeffer & Presser (2003) There is an alternative to agonizing over creating just the right question.... STUDENT CREATED QUESTIONS This TED video describes in less than 15 minutes a questioning strategy any teacher can use to help students begin to construct their own learning by constructing their own questions. Using a simple three step process (produce, create, and prioritize), Dr. Dan Rothstein demonstrates how to engage students in the questioning process.
Dr. Rothstein is a director and founder of the Right Question Institute (http://rightquestion.org/blog/author/dan/) and the author of Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions (Harvard Education Press: 2011). He is a proponent of empowering students to control their own learning through the construction of questions. Creating their own questions offers
students the opportunity to plummet to
the deepest depths of learning...never again
will it be uttered:
"Anyone? Bueller?" Whether you're standing in front of 25 students who are sitting in chairs, posting a discussion question, or hosting an online chat, knowing how to ask the right question is truly at the heart of student learning. And it's often a struggle... Bibliography
Gose, M. (2009). When Socratic Dialogue is Flagging: Questions and Strategies for Engaging Students. In College Teaching. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from Academic Search Premiere (35832625).
Killen, P. O. (2010, July). Building Questioning Strategies: Or, Why Am I Asking These Questions And Where Are They Taking Us? In Teaching Theology and Religion. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from Academic Search Premier (52039126).
Rothstein, D. (2012). Did Socrates Get It Wrong? [Online video]. Retrieved June 10, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JdczdsYBNA
Schaeffer, N., & Presser, S. (2003). The Science of Asking Questions. In Annual Review of Sociology. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from Academic Search Premiere (10878546).
Stein, B. (Actor). (1986). Ferris Bueller's Day Off [Online video]. USA: Paramount Pictures. Retrieved June 10, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4zyjLyBp64
Sweet, M. S., Michaelsen, L. K., & Wright, C. M. (2008, September). Simultaneous Report: A Reliable Method to Stimulate Class Discussion. In Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from Education Research Complete (33246427). Question Formulation Technique:

1. Ask as many questions as you can.
2. Do not stop to answer, judge or discuss.
3. Write down every question exactly as stated.
4. Change any statements into questions.

Rothstein (2012)
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