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What questions do for students and the discussion

Questions give tasks to students as individuals

Your questions imply student tasks that can vary greatly. In responding, students can perform different mental tasks than you intended. How do the questions you’re asking match up with your learning goals for the lesson? Are students performing the mental tasks you intended to set?

Questions give problems to the class as a whole

Your questions give problems to the class as a whole. For example, if you ask students for opinions and those differ, then the group faces the problem of what to make of these different opinions, and how.

Questions carry out discussion scripts

When you ask questions, what discussion script are you attempting to carry out? Should the discussion converge toward an agreement or correct answer? Or should it diverge to identify and compare different arguments? Or should it proceed through steps of systematic problem solving?

Questions set a tone and create a climate

When you ask a question, what tone or climate are you trying to establish? A tone of challenge, in which you are pushing students to think harder about what they say? Or perhaps a non-judgmental tone that creates a safe environment in which students might be more willing to share their ideas?