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GETTING STUDENTS TO ASK YOU QUESTIONS
Don’t just ask “any questions?” now and then. Usually there’s no response, especially if you ask towards the end of your lecture. Students are likely simply to take your question as a sign to start packing up and getting ready to leave.
Also, when students do take advantage of your offer to respond to their questions, you tend to get questions from the relatively con dent students, who aren’t usually the ones who need most to have their questions answered. On the whole, many students are shy at asking questions in lectures, not least because of
the fear that they may ask a ‘stupid’ question and then feel embarrassed. Even when we assure them “better to feel stupid for a moment than to remain ignorant for a lifetime”, voicing
a question in a lecture is a risky prospect for many students. That’s why they tend to come up to you at the end and ask their questions individually - but with schedules to keep, and the next class coming in shortly, that’s not an ideal alternative in practice. Besides, when a student asks a good question after the lecture, you’re likely to think ‘I wish I’d clari ed this to the whole group - not just you!’
Some suggestions for when students do actually ask you questions in lectures include:
+ Repeat the student’s question to everyone - many may not have heard the question, and your answer won’t make any sense if they don’t know the question;
+ Even if it is a stupid question, don’t make its owner feel stupid - just answer it quickly and kindly;
+ If you don’t know the answer, don’t make one up - say that you’ll  nd out, or ask if anyone else has an answer.
GETTING STUDENTS TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS
In large group sessions in particular, students can be quite reticent about answering your questions. They may fear looking stupid, or ‘being caught out’ when they haven’t been paying attention, or more may have cultural or personal constraints about speaking out in public or just lack the con dence to speak in a large group.
Here are some ‘don’ts’ for asking questions in your lectures
+ Don’t ask the whole class a question, then simply answer it yourself, unless you are using it as a rhetorical device. That just causes the class not to take your questions seriously, and not to even try to think of answers.
+ Don’t pick on the same students each time you ask a question - for example the ones who happen to have made eye-contact with you. That just discourages students from looking at you!
+ Don’t just pick on students near to you - that allows those at the back to become even more switched-off than they may be already.
+ Don’t choose a student then ask your question - that causes everyone else to not even try to think of an answer to your question.
+ Some students may  nd it comforting to be told up-front that they will not be pushed for answers or called out individually.
Question, pause, pick!
The best way to ask students questions in your lecture is this three-stage approach:
1. Ask the question;
2. Wait for enough time for many students to be ready to give at least some level of answer ideally asking them to jot something down while they are thinking;
3. Pick a student whom you have seen writing assiduously or who is looking at you with a smile.
This means more students think of an answer - their learning is more active.
HINT
A useful way of getting questions from a large group of students is to pass some Post-it Notes around. Ask all the students to jot down any questions they have, one per Post-it Note, and either to pass them down to you, or to stick them on a wall or door
on their way out of the lecture. You could also ask them to post slips of paper with questions as they leave into a collection box you’ve made from a photocopier paper box, or you could ask them to post questions on Vision. You can then gauge which questions are the most prevalent ones, and answer them in your next lecture, and note also what the other questions tell you about how the overall learning is progressing in the group.
HINT
Where possible, show your questions on-screen, so that students can see the question as well as hear it. It also makes the questions seem more important to students, and they’re more likely to take on board that these are questions that they need to become able to answer. It also means that when they may later revisit the slides for the lecture, they’re reminded of the questions.
When a student has answered a question, it can work well to give that student the power to pick who’s going to answer the next question.
It can be wise to make sure that you praise students for good answers - make them feel good about having had a go, even when you may wish to elaborate on their answer.
16 IN AT THE DEEP END | LEARNING + TEACHING academy
Don’t, however, intimidate students
When you pick a student who can’t (or won’t) answer a particular question, move on fairly quickly to another student. Always make it clear it is OK to pass if they don’t want to answer. If students come to fear the prospect of being asked a question in a large-group situation, they may well opt not to attend at all!


































































































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