Ques-cussion Active Learning - Active Learning

Last updated on 29/07/2019

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Spice up conversations by challenging students to discuss a topic using only questions. No answers or statements allowed!

How to implement the strategy

  1. Start the Ques-cussion by providing a trigger. The stimulus might be a problem to be solved, a provocative question or statement, some text or a key word, a video clip, a multimedia presentation, or a website to be analysed or discussed. 

  1. Provide a question to kick-start the discussion, ensure the question is visible to students either by slide display or written on the board.   

  1. Students may only respond or add to the discussion by formulating their responses as questions.     

  1. This activity follows an informal discussion model so students can shout out questions as they think of them.  A question does not have to be directly related to the previous question. 

  1. Questions are recorded either electronically, on the whiteboard or butcher’s paper by volunteer scribes.  

  1. There are three rules: (1) Only questions are allowed. (2) If someone makes a statement, everyone flags “statement!” and (3) the person must reword the statement into a question.   

  1. At the end of Ques-cussion, the class can select to focus discussion on two key questions raised.  Alternately, if you notice trending misconceptions, you can address those.   

  1. This activity works best when it is kept to around 10 minutes.   

  1. If you have a large group, divide the class in smaller teams of 8-10 students.   

The purpose of the strategy

Ques-cussion can be an effective way of generating discussion and learning in topic areas that are controversial, traditionally difficult and where students are reluctant to ask questions.  Questions allow students to structure and scaffold their thinking resulting in a deeper understanding of the content.  

By getting students to ask questions, you are inviting them to generate a variety of thoughts about the topic without requiring them to directly state their own views.  Additionally, with each question students will likely think of answers to the proposed question. 

In terms of formative assessment, the quality of questions asked by students enables you to gauge the level of understanding on a specific topic. 

Read More

The following questions can guide students to develop deeper thinking.  You may need to prompt or provide these to stimulate robust ‘discussions’. 

Questions that ask for more evidence: What evidence is there for that thought/idea? What data is that claim based on? 

Questions that ask for clarification: Can you put that another way? Would ___ be an example? 

Linking or extension questions: Is there any connection between what you’ve just said and __? How does your comment fit with ___ earlier comment? 

Hypothetical questions: What might have happened if ___? 

Cause and effect questions: What is likely to be the effect of___? 

Summary and synthesis questions: What are the one or two most important ideas that emerged from this discussion? What remains unresolved or contentious about this topic? 

Important Game Rules 
When explaining the rules of Ques-cussions, ensure students are aware of ‘question etiquette’:

  • Fake questions, that is, a statement disguised as a question, are not allowed. For example, "Small classes are better than large ones, aren't they?".
  • Personal criticisms on class or team members are not allowed.  For example, "You would have to be crazy to think that, wouldn't you?" 

*Ques-cussions can also be used as a form of revision at the end of a topic or easily adopted for online synchronous or asynchronous discussions.

Further Reading

Toledo, C. A. (2015). Dog bite reflections--socratic questioning revisited. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 27(2), 275-279. 

This article discusses the use of Socratic questioning in the online environment.  Socratic questions promote deep thinking by encouraging students to approach content from a critical perspective.  Table 2 (p. 278) provides examples for effectively asking questions that build trust.  These can be adopted in the online and face-to-face environment.  

Corley, M. A. and Christine Rauscher, W. (2013). Deeper Learning through Questioning [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from https://lincs.ed.gov/sites/default/files/12_TEAL_Deeper_Learning_Qs_complete_5_1_0.pdf 

A practical summary on the link between deeper learning and questioning.   

The learning focus of the strategy

  • Collaborative Learning

Class size that is suitable for the strategy

  • 100+ students
  • 20 - 50 students
  • 50+ students

Activity group size

  • Individual
  • Small group < 10

Year level in which the strategy is often used

  • Post graduate
  • Second year
  • Third Year+

Phase of the learning and teaching session in which the strategy will be used

  • Main phase of the session

Preparation time for the strategy

  • Less than 10 minutes

Duration of the strategy

  • Less than 10 minutes

Level of learning outcome that the strategy is designed to address

  • Analyse
  • Apply
  • Understand

Learning space appropriate for the strategy

  • Computer room
  • Laboratory/studio
  • Lecture theatre
  • Online
  • Seminar room
  • Workshop

Assessment Strategies

  • Formative Assessment

Preferred Citation

Learning Futures (2019). Ques-cussion. Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/8889/view


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