The power of asking questions

19 viewed last edited 2 years ago
Sangeetha Pulapaka

By the words of the artist from the German music group Snap! – in the song from the movie Bruce Almighty -

Maniac brainiac, winning the game

I'm the lyrical Jesse James

Quality I possess and say I'm fresh


Or I will attack and you don't want that

I've got the power

We as teachers have a power too. The power to encourage students to ask the right questions! Asking questions is one of the core capabilities of learning. Questioning is so crucial to the outcome and the results we achieve. Questioning is a process – each question builds in some way on the preceding answer, in a way that demonstrates good listening and a good sense of where awareness can be usefully placed. Questioning is at the heart of any teacher’s toolkit.

A student raising hand to ask a question in class is an inherently brave thing to do; it is a social risk to any high school student. So how do we promote them to ask questions?  I’ve tried approaches to encourage students to ask questions.  I divided them into small groups.I made it compulsory for each group to ask a question, but this did not work because they ended up clarifying the doubts they had with each other. This scenario made me recall the proverb – In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is the king. I’ve also tried asking playfully, or suggesting questions that they might have, but with limited success. So, I did the next best thing I could. I gave out small blank note cards to everyone and asked them to enter their questions anonymously.  This worked like magic; the only downside was the lack of time.

Technology can be a great way to promote student engagement beyond the classroom. Qalaxia facilitates teachers and students to share resources. Qalaxia leverages advancements in machine learning, combines the functionalities of search engines and Q&A platforms, and gives teachers visibility into student thinking. Throughout the learning process students interact with the instructor, their peers and the course content, similar to a classroom setting. We support student success by being mindful of the social and emotional dynamics in their course and ensuring the learning environment is one that is welcoming, engaging, and inclusive.