"The worst thing
that canhappen is to go along through a full hour without any questions. That
might mean two things: a very remote possibility that you are extremely clear,
but more often than not that you are not clear at all." --Dr. Umran Inan
Try beginning each
segment of a class by setting up a problem and explaining why it is interesting
Rather than asking
students to memorize a formula, teach them how to derive the formula and
identify its parts.
Try the step by step
approach to solve problems. Ask small questions along the way so that students
can see how the solution is being calculated and can confront similar questions
with the same strategy.
to imagine ways of solving the problem before you begin to work the solution
together. This takes advantage of the skills the students already have and
encourages them to actively extend their knowledge.
When you call on students,
try asking them to state a proposed method for solving the problem rather
than asking them for the solution to a problem. For example, ask "how
should I begin to work on this problem?" instead of "what is the
answer to this problem?"
from the class and then avoid answering them directly. Make sure everyone
hears and understands the question and then start working on an answer as
If you maintain a high
degree of interaction with the audience throughout the class, they may be
more willing to participate and ask questions. The earlier in the class
the students are encouraged to talk, the more likely it is that they will
contribute for the rest of the class session.
Try solving the problem
in two different ways. This gives students a sense of how best to approach
a problem, and it may prevent mistakes. This technique also holds the students'
attention because they will want to see if the answer is the same in both
To help the students
to learn to formulate problems as well as to find answers to problems, present
students with situations or design problems and encourage them to develop
questions for themselves. This enables students to see how work is done
at higher levels in their discipline.
Before moving on to
the new concept, try asking students specific questions about a representative
problem to test for learning. Students will often avoid responding to general
questions such as "Does everyone understand?" A more specific
question will help you to determine how well the audience is working with
* This handout adapted
from information in Teaching at Stanford: An Introductory Handbook for Faculty,
Academic Staff/Teaching, and Teaching Assistants , 1989.
Adaption by Nancy Plooster,
TA Development Program; University of California, Santa Barbara, 1997