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... one. This act of balance may also lead to a positive student-student discussion which will promote higher levels of cognition and more student interaction because of a volunteers desire to add or reflect on another students response. That opportunity in the classroom would be optimum for total class learning. Through observation, other students will be actively engaged in the discussion as well.
This leads to my next topic of building upon other students responses. Often, a response will be somewhat correct, but not cover all the information intended. Or, in another example, some students may be anxious and unable to form a clear response, instead offering a disjointed collection of information that needs clarification. As opposed to offering to rephrase or correct their statement, which will lead to cognitive levels of rote memorization at the most, utilizing a building strategy could prove more beneficial.
First, praising the student if the information is close to correct but somewhat disjointed is important so the latter choice of selecting a different student for clarification is not perceived as an exclamation of failure. Following the praise, there are two different strategies involving other students that can be used. If the initial response is very good, but just a little jumbled, asking another student to repeat the response in his or her own words will encourage a better packaging for an already good response. This method can further be disguised from the perception of the initial response being a failure by asking a student to repeat the response for a student across the room from the original respondent. This will provide the impression that the teacher believes the whole class was unable to hear the original response. It also helps keep the rest of the class engaged, which we will consider in the following section.
Another method would be to tell the respondent that he will be asked to follow up on his comments after other students are given a chance to comment. This is very effective for the student that has a propensity for falling off task by warning him of the prospect of further questioning. More importantly, the use of building will encourage higher levels of thinking as the students evaluate, analyze, translate and interpret the reponse's of the other students in the class. All classrooms lack the simplicity of an attendance of students who are all at equal levels of ability.
Every classroom has a wide array of students that requires consideration of the different needs and abilities in preparing a lesson and / or questions. According to Sanders (1966) this realization can often end in a continuance of keeping students in those levels of ability by not offering each student equal opportunity in engaging the content. Students frequently do not develop skills in using or creating ideas because they have insufficient opportunities to practice these forms of thought (p. 24). Sanders (1966) suggest that teachers will often lower the level of cognition for the students of lower ability, reserving the higher level questions for the high achieving student. While this sounds understandable, it effectively keeps the student with a low ability struggling with rote memorization while the high achiever gets to engage in the content.
Basically, if we practice this process, we will stifle the potential of the low achieving student to actively engage in the material. Although many high level questions directed to the low achieving student may be too difficult, teachers can find simpler high level questions to ask those students. Another effective strategy would be to start with the low achieving student and use building to add to his or her response. Following successful building on the original response, returning the question for final consideration to the first respondent will aid in higher level thinking as well as a meta cognitive process. Basically, questioning will become most effective when all the students participate at all the cognitive levels collectively. Engaging all the students at all cognitive levels was discussed in the previous section, however, in this section I will look at methods that can be used to support the students self-esteem and perception of their abilities to succeed in classroom discussion.
I will discuss the importance of wait time, keeping the students engaged and limiting distracted for the student that is so easily distracted. Most importantly, a tentative and anxious student needs to have an early positive experience in order to feel comfortable to engage in classroom discussion. Ill start with the question again. It is important to phrase the question clearly. An anxious student will have a difficult time interpreting a question because of all the fears consuming his mind at the same time the question is posed.
A good strategy would be to have the question (s) already written on the board so the student as well as the rest of the class has the opportunity to consider their answers for a longer period of time. Providing additional time is very important in encouraging higher levels of thinking, which in turn serves as an excellent motivator. Will (1987) suggests that wait time of three to five seconds after asking a question before a student response is one of the most essential techniques used in questioning. A deliberate pause during a discussion can provide students with the opportunity to think at higher levels. This wait time prior to selecting a respondent can effect the entire class thinking process, because they have no idea who will be chosen to respond to the question at hand. This method is very effective, however wait time is not limited to this particular time.
Following a students response can be a time of reason. The student as well as many of the other students is looking for confirmation from the teacher. Effective use of wait time and non-verbal cues at this point in questioning could provide better results than constructive criticism. For example, a teacher that looks perplexed may provide a stimulus, which inspires the respondent to rethink and add to their original comments. Consider times when you have spoken to a person noticed a perplexed look on the receivers face and decided to rephrase the statements in an attempt to be more clearly understood. By using this method, teachers will less frequently appear inquisitive, but more often appear to be genuinely interested in what the students have to say.
Carin (1978) found that students are genuinely more comfortable and apt to participate willingly if teachers place themselves in a less controlling role. Another positive effect of wait time following a students response is the possibility of student-student interaction. While waiting to comment, a teacher can decide to call on another student that suddenly shows signs, volunteering or non-volunteering, of interest to the original comment. As long as the conversation stays on task and is applicable, student-student discussion can be very rewarding for the whole class. A way to facilitate student-student discussion during whole-class discussion is to utilize the repeat or paraphrase methods. Repeat can be used as addressed in the previous section by the original respondent to provide a second opportunity to better state a jumbled response, or by a different student to check for understanding.
Paraphrasing can satisfy the same goals as repeat but also offers another student the opportunity to adjust the original response to satisfy his or her thinking. Basically, use of repeat, paraphrase and wait time will keep the rest of the class on their toes, because any student may be called at any time to add, adjust or simply comment on the current response or discussion. Whole-class participation will lead to improved student learning. Any method that garners student interest, stays on task and instigates higher levels of thinking will lead to improved student learning. Effective questioning is one of those methods. There are several positive rewards, as I have shown, for both the student and the teacher when facilitation of effective questioning is utilized during class discussion.
Teachers are actively checking for understanding, adjusting and reteaching information as needed. Students are given the opportunity and supported in their involvement with the learning in the classroom. Important as well, effective questioning is consistent with assessment and encourages students to thing on a meta cognitive level. My explanation of effective questioning has been limited to its use in whole class discussion, but should not be limited to that medium.
A teacher that can generate enthusiasm and higher levels of thinking by posing a simple question is something all teachers can and should become. With several chances to practice and participate successfully, students will begin to understand and engage in positive classroom discussions. Bibliography:
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