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Classes which focus on inquiry frequently require students to identify a question they want to answer and then go about answering it. However, not all questions are created equal. Often, students need guidance and practice identifying the kinds of questions that are worthy of formal inquiry.
In this exercise, students are given some sample questions and asked to evaluate them according to given criteria. Using small groups for this exercise can make the process more collaborative and enjoyable.
Provide students with some sample questions of varying quality relevant to your course theme. For example, "Why do some children apparently become violent after watching violent cartoons while others seem to be unaffected?"
Then ask students to rate the question on a 1 - 10 scale for each of the following criteria:
In follow-up discussion, explore differences in ratings that students gave to each question, and how the question might be improved to become a question more
From Justice, C., Rice, J., Warry, W., Inglis, S. Miller, S. and Shannon, S. (2007), Inquiry in higher education: Reflections and directions on course design and teaching methods. Innovative Higher Education, 31(4). 201-214.
We all want students to carry our teachings into their lives. Often, however, we must make our intentions very plain for students to understand that an assignment will equip them with skills and empower them, and is not an arbitrary hoop through which they must jump.
For this reason, frame each activity using these four steps:
Among the most useful things we as teachers can do during class discussion is shut our mouths. In an oft-cited meta-analysis of wait-time research, Tobin (1987) described findings of greater engagement and achievement when teachers waited at least three to five seconds after asking a discussion question before speaking again. Above this threshold, higher level thinking was observed and student academic performance improved. However, teachers behaving "normally" only tend to wait about one second. Students need a few moments to digest what they have recently heard, formulate their responses, and work up the courage to speak. Slow down, and more of your students will keep up with you.
Reference: Tobin, K. (1987). The role of wait time in higher cognitive level learning. Review of Educational Research, 57, 1: 69-95.