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Discussion: How to Ask and Answer Questions

Brief description

This activity can help draw the students’ attention to the importance of asking relevant and targeted questions about texts, in lectures, in their study groups, and of their supervisors or others. The students should only ask questions which they can understand and answer themselves.

The activity has a competitive factor which may have a motivational effect on the students.

Motivation for the activity and required outcome

The goal of the activity is to improve the students’ ability to ask relevant questions with a specific point of reference (a text, for instance) and a specific direction (a target group, for instance). 

Performing the activity

  • First round (2-4 minutes + 2-4 minutes). The purpose of this round is not to ask the best and most relevant questions, but to get started by asking questions and to get all the students to join in. So the questions should be extremely varied and are often easy to answer.
    • Each student must formulate one or two closed-ended questions about the text or theme in question. These are questions which their fellow students can answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Spend 2-4 minutes doing this.
    • You can inspire the students by showing them a couple of examples of the kind of questions needed at this stage:
      • ‘Is the name of a Danish prime minister mentioned in the text?’
      • ‘Does the text explain why the financial crisis started?’
    • The students form groups of 4-5 members.
    • Each student asks questions which are then answered by the other group members. Spend 2-4 minutes doing this.
  • Second round (4-6 minutes + 10-15 minutes).
    • Each group must formulate one or two open-ended questions about the text or theme in question. These questions must be answered in such a way that other people can understand them. The groups must be able to answer their questions themselves. The groups get 4-6 minutes to do this.
    • You must inform the students that it is now a competition between the groups to find out who can correctly answer the most questions the fastest. Explain the rules to them. You are the quizmaster and control the competition. Spend 10-15 minutes on the competition.
      • Each group gets a sound to use when they want to answer a question.
      • You should keep the score throughout the competition.
    • The first group asks a question and the other groups must give a correct answer as quickly as possible. The first group to give a correct answer to the question wins a point.
      • It is important that the group agrees on their answer – they need to discuss their answer before saying what they think.
      • If a question is not understood by the other groups, the group that has asked the question loses a point.
      • A point is also deducted if a group gives the wrong answer.
    • The next group asks their question and the other groups must once again answer correctly as fast as possible.
    • All the groups must ask at least one question.
    • The points are added up and a winner is announced.

Useful tips:

  • Should this activity be used to round off a review of one or more texts in a lesson?
  • Should the activity be used to round off a theme which has been analysed over the course of several lessons?
  • Should you follow up on the activity with more focused and challenging questions in subsequent lessons?