TO BE an effective teacher, one must master a range of skills relating to the delivery and assessment of information. Coupled with this requirement is the need to also be cognisant of how different individuals may acquire their knowledge and understanding.
Questions are a vital part of the classroom, especially when used as tools for testing, revision, reinforcement and for connecting what has been taught to future lesson planning.
Asking questions in the classroom can serve multiple purposes, such as to focus initial attention on a specific aspect at the beginning of a course or lesson, or to encourage learners to think about particular issues or related concepts.
Questioning your students also acts as revision or reinforcement on what has been taught, and enables teachers to then plan future lessons if there are seen to be some gaps in the students’ knowledge.
The challenge faced by the teacher is to ask the appropriate question that will draw the desired response, reaction and information. Achieving this objective requires planning, purpose and precision as well as practice.
There are six traditional types of questions that are categorised by their purpose and function.
(a) The direct question is one that is directly aimed at an individual learner, e.g. “Thomas, how many syllables does the word Edinburgh have?” Direct questions can be open or closed and are used to check an individual’s understanding of a topic.
(b) The indirect question is used in with groups. It is posed as a general question, e.g. “Who can think of a ‘double o’ word that rhymes with ‘flood’?”
(c) The specific or closed question is one that seeks a specific, accurate answer and is generally used to check the progress of individuals. e.g. “Which is the odd word? Chop, cheese, chef, or chance?”
(d) The open question seeks a multi-word answer, not just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, e.g. “How many words can you think of that begin with “war”?
(e) The attitude or explanatory question is one that endeavours to elicit a personal opinion or belief, e.g. “Why do you think some people can speak well but can’t write well?”
(f) The reflective or revisiting question is also “personal” but seeks an explanation to an individual’s past action or comment, e.g. “So why did you decide to study French instead of Spanish?”
Different learning styles
It is important in a teaching environment to remember that course participants can differ in the way they acquire knowledge and understanding.
There are three main methods that all learners engage in their personal learning process with different and varying levels of emphasis, priority and combination: auditory, visual, and kinaesthetic.
Auditory learners prefer to listen and talk about what they are learning. They enjoy discussion and like things explained to them. They can be very easily distracted especially by external noises. They also often find it difficult to work quietly for long periods of time.
Meanwhile, visual learners learn best using visual tools, e.g. graphics, diagrams, written material, illustrations, examples, real objects, graphs and charts.
They like to take notes and prefer written instructions on handouts or on over-head transparencies, and they tend to be more observant.
Finally, kinaesthetic learners learn best by “doing”. They like to perform their tasks and enjoy role-plays and personal participation. They tend to be more physically active and can find it difficult to “sit still” for long periods.
They prefer to be “shown” rather than to be “told” and enjoy making things and handling their learning tools. Kinaesthetic is also closely linked to Tactile Learning in that it emphasises “doing”.
Keith Wright is the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S).
The 4S methodology and the associated Accelerated English Programme (AEP) mentioned in this fortnightly column are now being used internationally to enhance the English proficiency of people with different competency levels.
E-mail contact@4Sliteracy.com.au for a free copy of the 4S-AEP Chart on Vowel Sound Variations.
Source: The STAR Home Education Sunday August 21, 2011