Improve your questioning skills – Part 2
By Truong Thuy Van, LSU
This is the second in Van’s series on how to improve your questioning skills – and your learning. Click here for the first 2 tips in this series.
Tip no. 3: Ask questions you think might be in exams
In the last lesson of our classes, we often ask teachers to give us a list of questions to revise for exams. Sometimes it was difficult to finish the list of around 50 questions in just a few days before exams.
So, instead of waiting for that question list, why don’t we make our own list during the semester? It is amazing what you can learn from asking questions about course materials and try to answer them by yourself. Sometimes the answers are right there when you ask questions you’ve created.
There are many ways you can start probing into the course materials. You can start by putting the definition into a particular context and asking what would happen; ask what the relationships are between concepts and what possibilities there are that the materials have not mentioned. Keep asking like you are digging through layers of soil until you find gold.
Tip no. 4: Make some assumptions, but do not let them become excuses for not digging through to deeper understanding
Sometimes we avoid asking questions and make our own assumptions based on what we believe. Some people even try to interpret a difficult, unfamiliar concept into what is familiar and acceptable to them without confirming that they are going in the right direction. If the assumptions are wrong (they could be), you could reach faulty conclusions.
Therefore, it is ok to make your own assumptions, but do not hesitate to ask for clear explanation or deeper understanding. If possible, discuss with teachers and check your assumptions. Also, the teacher might thank you for making their lectures interesting.
For more on this, check out this great article from Faculty Focus.
Tip no. 5: Practice public speaking
If you are shy like me, you rarely ask questions because public speaking is your biggest fear.
There is no other way to kill this fear but practice. Practice, practice and practice. Practice helps you gain the confidence necessary to break the fear; to stand up and express your questions clearly.
Remember that the situation will not change overnight or after your first attempt of these tips, but if you try and try and try again, you will gain the habit of asking good questions to fight confusion and learn well.