Questioning is a way of teaching that actively invites students to convey what they are thinking. Good questions, prepared before a lesson, will help a teacher determine whether students use varied approaches to a problem and how well students can explain their own thinking. This process complements observation.
Another important aspect of questioning is waiting for students to respond. While the average time teachers wait for responses is less than three seconds, teachers should allow for more time for students to think through their responses.
Think-alouds are a teaching/assessment strategy in which one verbalizes his or her thought process. A teacher should incorporate this into the daily practice of teaching, modeling it first, and then encouraging students to try it as well. Think-alouds can be especially helpful in revealing how a student arrived at a particular answer.
Probing questions are a teaching/assessment strategy that provides insight into the mental processes a student is using by engaging him or her in conversation about the subject. The goal of the questions is to deepen the student's understanding of the content.
Sample probing questions
Prompting questions are a process by which a teacher supports a student by giving hints that point the student toward appropriate strategies to use to solve a problem or to clarify his or her response. Prompting questions go far beyond simply making statements to students in the form of a question. It is important that teachers not "funnel," by either answering the question themselves or changing the question to one that requires little thought to respond.
Sample prompting questions
It is important that a teacher directs questions to all students in a classroom. Research has indicated that teachers often pose more challenging questions to male students5 and then allow more wait time when they ask more difficult questions of male students.6 While male students have been shown to benefit from this increased interaction with teachers, female and minority students suffer in terms of confidence and achievement.7
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