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Student-Defined Questions (classroom)
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Facilitate Student-Defined Questions active learning activities in a classroom
Time and Effort
|Instructor Prep Time||Medium|
|Student Activity Time||Medium|
|Instructor Response Time||Low|
|Complexity of Activity||Medium|
Student-Defined Questions have students individually reflect on a reading assignment, lectures, or presentation. Before class, students write a question based on that content and write a model answer for it. In class, student pairs exchange questions and write a response to the partner’s question. They trade, read, and compare answers.
Use it when you want...
- To have students practice identifying important features of course content,
- To formulate questions and answers, and review responses given by others, or
- To give students a chance to rehearse responses to questions and examine sample responses outside of a formal testing environment.
What students will need
- No special requirements for this approach.
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate Student-Defined Questions learning activity within a classroom.
- Formulating a good question is a difficult task and one with which students are often unfamiliar. This activity will work best when you have spent some time teaching students how to formulate valid questions and answers.
- Prepare a handout with guidelines, sample questions, and responses that model the level of complexity and depth you expect.
- Create an online assignment that asks students to reflect on a learning activity (e.g., reading an article, listening to a lecture, watching a film), formulate an essay question and model response to the question, and submit it to the instructor.
- Have students prepare a model response to their question.
- Students bring a copy of their questions and model answers to the next class session.
- Students form pairs, exchange questions, and write responses.
- Students trade model answers and compare and contrast their in-class responses and their partner’s model answer.
- Partners discuss their response first for one question and then for the other, paying particular attention to similar and dissimilar ideas.
- Optional: if you want to assess the quality of questions and sample questions, students share their documents with the instructor.
- Review the outcomes of the activity.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
- The wearing of masks by students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak. All classrooms that are large enough to normally require a microphone already have a microphone system with a communal clip-on pickup element. Further information about the availability of additional clip-on or headset microphone elements will be coming soon. View the instructions and short videos below to assist with the use of the microphones and the portable systems:
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 302-306.