How can I use questions to help students build an idea?

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Episode 205: Ranking forces University of Colorado Boulder

In facilitating group work, one of the instructor’s important jobs is to help students build a sequence of physics ideas into a coherent concept. How can instructors use questions to help students build an idea?

August 25, 2020

Pedagogy Content
Questioning strategies
Physics Content
Newton's laws
Instructor Interaction

Lesson Contents (7 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(0 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(342 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What did you notice in this episode? Talk to a partner about what you noticed.

  2. Describe the main teaching strategy that Lee (the instructor) uses in this episode.

  3. Would you describe Lee’s questions as more often open-ended or closed (having a specific correct answer)?

  4. Do you see Lee as mainly trying to learn about the students’ ideas, or lead them to a particular destination? Point to specific evidence in the transcript.

  5. What is a possible benefit of the way that Lee asks questions? What is a possible risk of Lee’s approach?

  6. What does this episode suggest is one way that instructors may use questions to build an idea?

This lesson was developed with assistance from Thomas Appel and Brian Ma.