Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

The “Question Formulation Technique” is being used from kindergarten all the way through to higher education across all disciplines.  What is it?  And, how does it work?

THIS ARTICLE, breaks down the process in detail, providing some examples and overviewing the benefits.

In a nut shell, it takes the act of asking questions in class and makes it 100% student centered.  Students are not only answering, but actually generating their own discussion questions.  It can be used at a variety of different points; for example to introduce or conclude a unit, or even as a formative assessment tool in the middle of a unit.  Once the technique is taught to students they can repeat it again and again with different content topics.  By having students generate and then discuss their own questions, we can vastly increase student engagement, participation and critical thinking.

The technique is fairly simple, but very powerful, indeed.  First, students are give a topic focus and they generate lots of possible discussion questions.  In the next stages, the questions are possibly improved and then prioritized and culled.  Finally, the student led discussion takes place, possibly with some teacher guidance at first, but once students get the hang of it they can have totally independent Socratic style seminar discussions.

Having tried it out in class, I can attest to the fact that it has two clear benefits; 1) it encourages deeper discussion and higher order thinking, and 2) it provides a key element of scaffolding to get your quieter, less active students actively engaged in the class discussion.

Put your student in the driver’s seat and try out the QFT in your next teaching unit!

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