The Importance of Asking Good Questions

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese proverb

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As educators, encouraging questions from students is a way to gauge student learning, increase student participation, and encourage active learning.  Sometimes students are shy or maybe they don’t want to appear “uncool” so they don’t speak up.  Having a Q & A time is valuable before a lesson begins and after it’s complete.

Good discussion revolves around the use of open-ended questions.  These are questions with a little vagueness that do not prompt or suggest a specific answer from youth.  Avoiding yes/no questions (closed-ended) provides a space for discussion and dialogue.  Open-ended questions encourage a more thoughtful response.  They are helpful in discovering more about a topic and can enhance a lesson.

Examples of Open Ended Questions:

  • What do you think is the most important holiday?
  • What is your favorite flavor of pie and why?
  • Do you enjoy traveling?
  • What do you like about summer?
  • What can you share about your family?
  • Which highway traffic sign is the most important?

Examples of Closed Ended Questions:

  • Do you enjoy 4-H?
  • Are you ready for Christmas?
  • When is your birthday?
  • Do you have siblings?
  • What is your favorite subject in school?
  • What does a stop sign mean?

Do you recall Bloom’s Taxonomy?  In 1956, Benjamin Bloom, published a structure for youth to obtain knowledge.  The basic understanding of the structure is that knowledge is gained from simple to complex and concrete to abstract.

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Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching (graphic)

Check out the awesome handout below developed by the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University.  The handout would be a nice addition to a lesson so that when Q & A rolls around an agent can utilize these action words when asking questions.

BloomsTaxonomyVerbs

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