Sunday, February 17, 2013

Creative Questioning

The topic of the most recent Humanities Pedagogy Group was Creative Questioning. My typical pedagogy is to ask lots of questions as part of a large-group discussion, but I’ve often felt that my questions weren’t getting me where I really wanted to go. It seems like we don’t really delve enough in class. We’re more likely to get to more critical perspectives when I review what other experts have said. What am I missing?

Our readings were “The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking, and Learning” and “Socratic Questioning.”  The former site argues that “Thinking is not driven by answers but by questions,” and that students have not learned how to ask the good questions. This brings up an important point: if I’m asking all the questions, how will they learn to question for themselves? I think it’s true that “only students who have questions are really thinking and learning.” So perhaps the problem is not the questions I’m asking, but that I'm not teaching students how to ask the right questions.

Here are some things I would like to try:

  • Teach students about different types of questions: of interpretation, of assumption, of implication, of point of view, of relevance, of accuracy, of precision, of consistency, of logic. 
  • Give students more practice coming up with questions in class in small groups, then discuss the questions as a class. Have them look especially for questions that the text didn’t answer for them. 
  • Ask questions as a step to writing a paper.
  • On an exam, have a question that asks them to list questions about the text and explain the significance of the questions they have chosen. 

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