Using Student-Generated Questions to promote Deeper Thinking

Asking questions is a habit of active and keen learners. If students ask questions while learning that means they are listening and are present in the class mentally as well. Students who take charge of their own questioning become more productive and engaged in their learning processes. Posing questions not only helps students grasp the material better, but also allows them to seek out information, solve difficulties, and broaden their comprehension as students strive to find answers to their queries, learn new things and expand their knowledge. Questions provide students with a starting point for discovering the understandings linked with a unit of study. Questions can assist students in grasping the broad disciplinary concepts around a subject or context, as well as related themes or topics. They give a structure, a purpose, and a sense of direction for learning exercises in each lesson to assist students in connecting what they are learning to their experiences and lives outside of the classroom. They also welcome and encourage students to ask their own questions in order to have a better understanding.

What actually are students generated questions?

Student-generated questions are questions that students design in order to demonstrate their comprehension of the content being presented. These aren’t just clarifying inquiries that a student could ask when they’re unsure about a subject. These are frequently seen as questions having precise solutions depending on the topic, comparable to those found on an exam or quiz. Multiple choice, true and false, fill-in-the-blank, short response, and essay questions are examples of question kinds that may be produced. Questions submitted by students can be used in a variety of ways. Questions inserted in an exam or quiz, utilized as a useful tool for practice, or even used to increase interest in the subject are some examples of possible applications.

Do student-generated questions enhance students’ engagement?

It is well understood that students producing test questions or pre-exam preparation improve their grasp of course contents and fosters deep learning. Furthermore, questions developed by students that required higher cognitive abilities (as opposed to easy recollection) have been associated with self-directed learning and increased conceptual understanding. 

In exams: Student-generated questions can be utilized to engage students in the review process. These questions can also be readily included in a conventional test or quiz without any work on the part of the teacher. This method encourages participation by generating debate over whether relevant content should or should not be included in an exam. It also motivates students when they discover that their questions are being used on their tests. Another advantage of tests is that if each student produces a question and it is used on an exam, they should be able to answer at least one question. Research on this method discovered that students who used student-generated questions often got higher scores and that students who were more active in the process performed better on examinations or quizzes.

In practices: Questions created by students can also be utilized as practice material. One article explores the use of student-generated questions to assess and identify interest in specific topics. This helps to pique students’ attention by having them ask questions about what they want to learn about and then addressing what the students have demonstrated interest in throughout the class. Using this method, students may draw connections to topics they are interested in while still remaining engaged in what they need to study. Foos (1989) investigated whether students would benefit from practicing writing questions before an exam. Some students in the study practiced writing multiple-choice or essay questions, while others did not (Foos, 1989). Students who practiced writing questions before the exam fared much better than those who did not practice writing questions at all. The values of those who submitted multiple-choice vs essay questions were also compared, and there was no difference in how well the two groups performed on the exam.

Benefits of students generated questions 

  • Improve active student learning
  • Boosts students’ drive to record and recall previously taught topics, as well as think carefully about the class material
  •  If students want their questions to be included in the test, they must spend time digesting the content and developing appropriate questions.
  • This practice also offers students the impression that they are actively contributing to the course’s growth and advancement of the course objectives.
  • The amount of participation of students has a substantial impact on their learning experiences.
  • This exercise provides a terrific chance for students to compose an amazing question, speak up, and contribute to the class.

Tips to use student-generated questions for deeper thinking 

  • Instructors should provide explicit guidance on what constitutes a GOOD inquiry. Teachers should encourage questions that promote deeper thinking.
  • Before the class discussion, students should have submitted some responses or started some dialogues.
  • Instructors will separate students into groups during class discussions. Each student must submit at least one question, with 20 minutes of class time set up for group discussions.
  • Each group presents their questions to the entire class, and everyone debates and attempts to offer answers. If required, faculty can step in and provide a tip on how to answer the issue, which may not necessarily answer the query but does provide insight into how to discover it. Provide materials for them to use in order to answer the question themselves. If staff offer the answers, students may miss out on the opportunity to learn on their own.
  • Finally, instructors will assemble, screen, modify, and choose the questions that will appear on the test.
  • Teach kids how to ask smart questions by doing the following: It might be challenging for kids to produce their own questions at first, so many will begin with basic yes/no or factual suggestions. To inspire better questions, invite students to consider and focus on some of the more difficult or essential topics they met in the class, and then urge them to submit questions that begin with “explain” or utilize “how” and “why” framing.
  • Active learning tactics, such as adopting the structure of the popular game show Jeopardy! to review ideas, have been shown to raise both student engagement and academic success. You may get kids involved by having them compose the questions.
  • No matter if your classroom is in person, hybrid, or virtual, popular programs like Kahoot and Quizlet are entertaining and simple methods to design quizzes.
  • Use some class time to define the qualities of higher-order questions, then gather student questions and have a group discussion about some of the most difficult ones.

Take a page from project-based learning and ask students to create driving questions, such as “Why do leaves have different shapes?” According to Andrew Miller, a former high school teacher and current administrator at an international pre-K–12 school, this not only improves students’ understanding of the topic but also “creates interest and a sense of challenge” that can draw in even the most reluctant students.

Carter Martin

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