Teaching Tips

Any questions?

Several weeks ago, I received a blog post from the Faculty Focus called “‘Everybody with me?’ and Not-So-Useful Questions” which pique my interest, but I didn’t have time to read it so I bookmarked it for later..  Then one day I was sitting in a graduate class when I heard the question, “You follow me?” The next day I was walking down the hallway in my office building and happened to walk by a class when I heard a professor ask, “Does that make sense?”  Both of these experiences caused me to go back and read the Faculty Focus blog post, and I started to think about the questions professors ask and what they mean or want when they ask questions.

So I thought back to how I felt when I heard both of these questions.  When my professor asked the class the question, “You follow me?,” I immediately answered “no” in my head because I was still processing what he was saying.   So technically I wasn’t with him, but I didn’t dare tell him that because I didn’t want to him to just repeat the explanation he had just given. It was in that moment that I realized that I needed to check my own teaching.  Was I asking questions that were not moving my students forward? Was I really allowing them to respond? Was I asking questions that did not have a purpose other than to fill a void in the lesson?

As I reread the Faculty Focus blog post, Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) were mentioned as ways to involved students more.  CATs are strategies in which faculty can informally or formally assess students’ understanding.  Some examples of CATs are one-minute essays and student-generated exam questions. I started to remember other techniques, like freewriting or popcorn questions.  All of these strategies help faculty teach in a way that promotes purposeful questions as well as opportunities to gauge if and how the students are understanding the course material.  Is everyone with me?

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