Using Student Questions as Learning Tools

Student questions are often the most important drivers of learning. A question indicates the desire to “know”, as well as an interest in the subject of the question. Teachers can harness the power of questions in a variety of ways. Here are three:

Variation #1: Ask students ahead of time to bring to class one or two questions they have based on their homework reading. Have them frame it as follows: “I have always wanted to ask …..(fill in the topic)….?” Have them submit the questions on a card at the start of class and use them to lead discussion. They can also post them on Blackboard in order to get responses from the rest of the class.

Variation #2: Have students write down a question at the start of class. Address them throughout the course of class period.

Variation #3: With 10 minutes of class time remaining, have students write down one question that they still have about the day’s topic. You can also have students formulate questions in pairs to do this. Answer those questions at the start of the next class period.

This entry was posted in Actively Engaging Students in Classroom, Lectures - Best Practices, Teaching Practice and tagged , , , , by Jane Alden Stevens. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jane Alden Stevens

Jane Alden Stevens is a photographer and educator who is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati. An active artist, Stevens has exhibited and published her work extensively both in the US and abroad. She is the author of “Tears of Stone: World War I Remembered” (2004). In the course of her teaching career, Stevens taught courses in film, photography, and professional practices for fine artists. Her interest in teaching practices was deepened when she started teaching the "Graduate Teaching Workshop", a required graduate level course for fine artists and art historians that prepares them to teach the courses they will later be assigned. She was also involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program at the University of Cincinnati, which prepares masters and doctoral students across all programs for teaching at the university level. She has conducted pedagogy workshops for a variety of universities, as well as participated in academic practicum panels at educational conferences. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Stevens was honored with the all-university Cohen Award for Excellence in University Teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2002 and Professor of the Year honors in her college in 2011.

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