What, Why, When, Which, and How—these words shape questions that foster thinking in our minds. The students need questions to indulge their brains in high-order thinking and enforce evaluation of the curriculum through their own skills. The age-old pattern of classroom learning has, since then, seen modifications in a lot of ways, though the practice of questions has maintained its consistency.
Asking questions is most efficient if it’s a two-way process. As such students should cater to their curiosity through questions and teachers must inculcate asking questions in their method of teaching and communicating with students. This enables better engagement in classrooms and helps understand the level of understanding each student has gained in what is being taught.
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It is important to know what to ask and when to ask it. This assists the entire process of learning and aids a better understanding in the long run. We can classify questions into types based on characteristics and the kind of answers they receive. Analyzing these categories of questions is extremely important. It promotes reasoning, problem-solving, evaluation, and the formulation of hypotheses.
Asking Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions
These two kinds of questions are the most basic types of questioning that follow a classroom session. close-ended questions are extremely objective in nature, while a direct question is asked with the purpose of gaining a direct answer. This questioning is done by both students and teachers, with the goal of evaluating the level of understanding on both ends. These are fairly easy to tackle. Although they do not compel students to think hard and provide opinions or analyse a topic, they are extremely useful.
On the other hand, open-ended ones are extremely subjective. They require thinking, processing, evaluating, and analyzing. They majorly assist the teachers to inculcate deeper learning in students by helping them create their own perspectives.
Students use open-ended questions to their teachers, which not only fosters their ability to compartmentalize what is being taught to them but also shows fruitful and active involvement. ‘Why do you think this happened?’ or ‘What are your opinions on this issue?’ or ‘How would this issue have affected the other?’. These kinds of questions usually have more than one correct answer and therefore, foster creative thinking—a major factor of growth in young minds.
Metacognitive Questions by Teachers
Metacognition in simple words is thinking about one’s own thinking. For students, metacognition is a practice that fosters them to evaluate their own perceptions, answers, and opinions. A teacher can enforce Meta Thinking in the classroom.
Simple questions, placed strategically within the lecture duration, can enforce excellent metacognition in students and stay with them for their life. These questions can hinder or enhance creative thinking, given the context a teacher uses them.
Consider these two questions: ‘Which of these makes more sense?’ versus ‘which of these makes more sense according to you?’ The structuring of the question is similar in both. But, the first question suggests a cognition in students that implies that the teacher has already chalked out the correct answer. If you can point out the correct one, you’re smart, and if you fail to do so, you’re not.
The second question, however, centers around fostering creative thinking in students. It compels students to internalize all possible answers and evaluate them on their own. Metacognitive questioning doesn’t pressurize the students into thinking there’s a right answer they need to figure out. It simply evokes curiosity so that they grind their minds using all the opinions and perceptions that they build while retaining.
If a student has difficulty answering metacognitive questions, it is a clear indication that the problem doesn’t lie in their inability to retain knowledge. It is confidence and self-efficacy that they lack. The teacher then focuses on these problems instead of casting off the child as slow learners.
Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy
Low and high-order division of questions influences the Taxonomy theory heavily. However, this classification brings only cognition into focus. These two cognitive categories include lower order ( for memory, rote, and simple recall) and higher-order ( for more demanding and exacting thinking).
Taxonomy, however, expanded itself into not one but three domains, one of them being cognition. The other two domains are psychomotor and affective, all three of which overlap with each other. These three domains are co-dependent on each other, with the most basic level being cognition.
Taxonomy assists teachers in dividing the difficulty level of questions to ask the students. It is a method for students to not only self-evaluate but also develop understanding from a basic level before moving higher up.
Taxonomy states six steps for clearing concepts, each step having its own sets of questions. Once students resolve these questions, they can move forward to the next. Each step assists in answering the next one. Hence, by the end, students are able to fully grasp the topic.
These methodologies, at their core, inculcate intelligent questioning in classrooms. Questions tend to boost the level of retention in a class. It also increases student engagement and is the best way to facilitate understanding and grasping the nuances of a topic. Asking questions has been proven to be profoundly fruitful by generations of theorists and educational psychologists. It will continue being essential till classrooms are facilitated by the two-way interaction system, amongst the teacher and students.