Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Art of Asking Questions

Asking good questions are powerful in unleashing wisdom and curiosity

I think this statement applies to many situations, especially tutoring.  Quality questions that you ask your students have a multiplier effect on learning.  Asking an understanding-seeking question will help you unleash a more powerful chain of events.  

So how can educators or tutors start this insight-curiosity-wisdom chain?

One major starter is the understanding-seeking question.  Here are some tips:


Pause

Silence can be golden.  Pause after asking a question.  However, if the student does not answer your question in 10 seconds, he or she may need you to redirect or clarify the questions.  In addition, know that eye contact can also be important in conveying an in the student's answers.

Think

Think before you ask.  Determine what you seek to learn from your student, and then choose questions that will take you there.  You may have a tendency to craft questions that give you the answer you were looking for.  Ensure your approach does not make the student feel as though he or she is on trial.

Start with a setup statement

Before you ask a question to your student, it is a good practice to start with a setup statement.  This simple change will make your questions more powerful because it helps sender and receive to be on the same page.

Ask Questions that require higher-level thinking

The goal is to create insight, not just to share information.  The main objective is to nurture understanding and growth, not just exchange facts.  Prepare questions that require the student to dig deep.

Avoid questions that begin with "why"

A question that begins with "why" may be perceived as judgmental for some cultures.  Try use "what are the reasons......" or "walk me through your though process about......" to unveil the hidden facts or reasons.

Example

One of my students told me that he failed the math quiz.  The conversation went like this:

  • Student: I studied so hard but I still failed the quiz last friday!
  • Me: So can you please show me what questions you got wrong?
  • Student: Sure. Here are the questions...
  • Me: Can you walk me through how you got your answer for question #2?
  • Student: Sure.  Here are the steps......
  • Me: Great.  Can you please explain the reasons of taking these steps?

You get the idea.  As you can see, the goal here is to dig deeper and facilitate understanding-seeking questions and answers.  This will help students to think further and dig deeper.

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Source: Talent Management Magazine, August 2014

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