Guest Blogger: Do You Understand?

Hello everyone, my name is Molly and today I am guest blogging for Steph. I also go to school at UW-Platteville and am a broad field science major with a secondary education emphasis. I hope to teach high school biology and chemistry.

“Do you understand?” How many times have you heard a teacher say that to their class? Usually the class nods and mumbles yes while the teacher moves on to the next topic, assuming the students have understood. Or a teacher will ask simple yes or no questions that don’t engage the students in critical thinking.

I am a firm believer in making students think for themselves instead of just giving them the answers. I really like to ask questions that help them come to the answer. Even though I’ve always known that I use this strategy, I didn’t see the effects until the other day when I was tutoring. I tutor chemistry for the university tutoring services and last week I had my supervisor observe one of my sessions for evaluation. Yesterday when I went to talk about the results of that observation, she said that she was really impressed with the types of questions I was asking. She saw that my questions got my tutee to think about more than just the right answer but also the reasoning behind that answer.

This type of learning is what teachers should strive for in the classroom because it helps students make connections between different topics. When students can understand the material at a higher order learning, it becomes more meaningful. Deeper questioning is what leads to those Ah ha! moments in students’ minds.

So how do you ask questions that will enhance your students’ learning?

  • Ask questions that require more than a one word answer
  • Start your questions with: how, what is the effect, why, or explain
  • Use the two-question rule: follow up a question with a deeper question to probe for understanding
  • Write questions into your lesson plan
  • After introducing a new topic, check for understanding by asking questions

If this seems difficult, just start small and ease into it. Increase the number of questions you ask every day. I really think you will notice a difference in your students. Happy questioning!



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