Questioning in the Classroom
I really enjoyed reading the tips for proper and effective questioning in the classroom, especially as I will be conducting my first “lesson” in my field study this week. Through my field experience, I have already noticed a lot of effective use of questioning and also some areas that I would improve in my own classroom. One thing that I thought was interesting was the idea that questions are usually used for factual recall rather than higher-level thinking. In reality, most of the time when students answer questions it is just to help them review the information they have already learned or knew prior to the lesson. Larson and Kieper also mention that often times lower-level questions are more effective because they help teachers diagnose the student’s level of understanding. A lot of times my CT will ask students who seem not as engaged in class to answer questions that are fairly simple, just to make sure they are keeping up with the class notes.
Another important skill we have discussed in methods class is leaving enough time for students to answer questions and think about forming a proper answer as well as giving an encouraging classroom environment to encourage involvement. One tip I have taken away from this and thought about for my own lesson is to ask what questions students have for you rather than asking “Are there any questions”. That way, students get the idea that they should have questions and are more likely to formulate them.
One new idea that I learned is convergent vs. divergent questions. Convergent questions allow for one or few possible responses while divergent allows for a broad number of responses. This is important because while convergent questions are better for factual information and review, divergent would broaden class discussion and potentially ignite higher level thinking. I also liked the tips about considering who you are teaching and what the classroom environment is when formulating questions. It is clear that some of my CT’s students respond better to convergent, direct questions while the Honors class often enjoys answering divergent questions and opening up discussion.
Another important aspect of questioning is teacher response. Larson and Kieper discuss tone, body language, and emphasis when responding to answers given by participating students. I remember in my own grade school experience there were certain teachers that definitely made me feel more comfortable with answering questions and others that made me feel like I wasn’t right when I answered or would be judged for the quality of my response. This will be important for me to remember when I am a teacher. Even if the level of response is frustrating or my questioning isn’t working as planned, I will need to alter my own attitude and keep the classroom as a judgement-free zone.