I was intrigued when I viewed an old film
showing George Polya using questions alone to help a group of teenagers
“discover”--and prove--the Pythagorean Theorem. Watching Polya draw
that discovery out of his students confirmed for me that teaching by questioning
encourages and develops higher level thinking in students. Here are three
strategies I have found that enhance the learning power of good questions:
WAIT AFTER A QUESTION: Before
facilitating a satellite discussion between students at our college and students
ASK LEARNERS TO WAIT AFTER A QUESTION:
Preparing to teach first graders in Sunday school, I read in the teachers’
manual about the value of asking open-ended questions and urging students to
reflect on a question before answering. I learned to say, “Here is a
question. I will give you time to think about it before I take answers.”
It is amazing how even the shyer children can come up with astute, insightful
comments when given time to reflect. I have found the same to be true in my
college math classes.
ASSUME THERE ARE QUESTIONS: I found
it hard to elicit questions from students until I observed a master teacher, Dr.
John Mark Nielsen, who teaches English at
--Connie Buller, Faculty, Mathematics, Metropolitan
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