By Jeri Mattics Omernik
Building on existing knowledge about how the brain works, teachers can phrase questions in ways that help better engage students.
First, make an effort to ask open-ended questions instead of closed questions. A closed question is one that can be answered either “yes” or “no.” For example, “Do you have any questions?”
If you simply rephrase that question and say, “What questions do you have?” that sends a completely different message to your students’ brains. It implies that they should have questions and establishes an environment where they feel encouraged to ask their questions. Open-ended questions allow the teacher to probe for more information and encourage students to think about the task in which they are about to engage, which stimulates questions.
Listen to Kendra Linnebur, who teaches agriculture in Fredonia, Kan., discuss phrasing questions appropriately: