Encouraging Student Questions

Asking questions is a fundamental part of the learning process. Yet many students hesitate or hold back in class.

Here's a question for faculty: How can you support students in asking more and better questions?

ENGAGE Engineering has some easy-to-implement ideas you can use right away.

Inspire Student Curiosity! Help Students Engage by Inviting Their Questions!

  • Invite Written Questions: Have students submit written questions with clickers, on index cards, or via email. You or an assistant can skim for themes. Then you can: (1) address the issue(s) during your next class; (2) adapt your lecture, lab, or recitation session; or (3) email the entire class before the next session.
  • Ask Students to Bring Questions to Class: Ask students to jot down questions as they complete assignments and come to class prepared with a list of questions. A prepared list increases students' responsibility for learning and keeps them listening for answers during class time.

This Faculty-Student Interaction (FSI) tip offers ways to increase student engagement, learning, and self-confidence through asking questions.

  • Overcome student reluctance based on fears of appearing ignorant or unsure
  • Demonstrate that asking questions is actually a sign of strength and intelligence
  • Support students in developing well thought-out questions that stimulate learning
  • Make the most of your limited classroom time

Asking more and better questions will help your students:

  • Clear up confusion
  • Acquire new knowledge
  • Deepen understanding
  • Foster critical thinking
  • Stimulate interest and new ideas
  • Engage more fully and gain self-confidence

ENGAGE offers a full slate of Faculty-Student Interaction tips that foster faculty approachability, increase student engagement and learning, and improve retention. Take a look and consider using one or more of these in your teaching.