What is the effect of different kinds of instructor questions?

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Episode 110: Tension University of Maryland

Instructor questions have a variety of possible purposes: for example, to determine what students have learned, to get students to recall information, to help direct students, to validate student thinking, or out of curiosity. What is the effect of different kinds of instructor questions?

July 2, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Questioning strategies
Physics Content
Newton's laws
Instructor Interaction
STEM-wide audiences

Lesson Contents (3 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

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

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

(154 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What did you see happening in this episode? Tell a partner what you noticed.

  2. In this episode, the instructor (Lance) asks a series of questions. On the transcript (on reverse), mark the more open (divergent) questions with an O and the more closed (convergent) questions with an X.

  3. Choose a few questions that you marked and try to identify why Lance asked that question. For example, is he trying to determine what students have learned, get them to recall information, support their reasoning, or some other reason?

  4. Sometimes teachers ask questions is out of curiosity – because they want to know something that they don't already know, and that the other person can tell them. Come up with an example of a "curiosity question" that an instructor in this episode might ask a student. Does Lance ask any curiosity questions in this episode?
  5. Are there any questions that seem like they would be open questions, but that the students answer in a closed-question sort of way? How about the opposite – closed-type questions that the students answer divergently?
  6. What do you think Lance thinks teaching is about, based on what you see here? What does he seem to think his students need from him?

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