18 November, 2008


Wilen, Effective Techniques of Questioning

Plan key questions to provide structure and direction to the lesson. Spontaneous questions that emerge are fine, but the overall direction of the discussion has been largely planned.
Example: a "predicting discussion" (Hyman, 1980)
1. What are the essential features and conditions of this situation?
2. Given this situation, what do you think will happen as a result of it?
3. What facts and generalization support your prediction?
4. What other things might happen as a result of this situation?
5. If the predicted situation occurs, what will happen next?
6. Based on the information and predictions before us, what are the probable consequences you now see?
7. What will lead us from the current situation to the one you predicted?
• Phrase the questions clearly and specifically. Avoid vague and ambiguous questions.
• Adapt questions to the level of the students' abilities
• Ask questions logically and sequentially
• Ask questions at various levels
• Follow up on students' responses
o Elicit longer, more meaningful and more frequent responses from students after an initial response by -
Maintaining a deliberate silence
2. Making a declarative statement
3. Making a reflective statement giving a sense of what the students said
4. Declaring perplexity over the response
5. Inviting elaboration
6. Encouraging other students to comment
7. Give students time to think after they are questioned (Wait Time)
• The three most productive types of questions are variants of divergent thinking questions (Andrews, 1980):
1. The Playground Question
a) Structured by instructor's disignating a carefully chosen aspect of the material (the "playground")
b) "Let's see if we can make any generalizations about the play as a whole from the nature of the opening lines."
2. The Brainstorm Question
a) Structure is thematic
b) Generate as many ideas on a single topic as possible within a short period of time
c) "What kinds of things is Hamlet questioning - not just in his soliloquy, but throughout the play?"
3. The Focal Question
a) Focuses on a well articulated issue
b) Choose among a limited number of positions or viewpoints and support your views
c) "Is Ivan Illych a victim of his society or did he create his problems by his own choices?"