How do you facilitate meaningful discussion? This question has plagued teachers for years, as many struggle to turn class discussions into something meaningful to their learning. However, the issue has a quick fix.

By simply asking the right open-ended questions, you can enhance the learning potential from basic classroom discussions. Here, we'll list questions relating to personal reflection, logic, reasoning, and even the scientific method.


1. Reflection Questions

Reflection isn't just looking back at what we have learned, it's thinking about how information has had an impact on us. Reflection allows students to consider how their thoughts have been changed or challenged in order to understand what learning means to them. 


Some good questions which focus on reflection, are:


What do you think about what was said?

How would you agree or disagree with this?

Are there any other similar answers you can think of with alternative routes?

Does anyone in this class want to add something to the solution?

How might you convince us that your way is the best way?

How did you determine this to be true?

Why didn’t you consider a different route to the problem?

Why does that answer make sense to you?

(in response to an answer):…what if I said that’s not true?

Is there any way to show exactly what you mean by that?


2. Logical Reasoning & Analysis

Logical reasoning and analysis allows students, and even teachers alike to deconstruct the thought process of an idea, or problem. To learn the inner workings of information, it is useful to break it down to its most basic level.


Some open-ended questions could include: 


Why do you think this works? Does it always? Why?

How do you think this is true?

Show how you might prove that?

Why assume this?

How might you argue against this?

How do you think this is true?

Show how you might prove that?

Why assume this?

How might you argue against this?


3. Science & Social Science

The scientific method, including the social sciences, adheres to strict rules of evidence, observation, and skepticism. Promoting these rules in your questions is very important when teaching science. 


You can follow the method closely by asking these type of questions:


What’s the purpose for this experiment or argument?

Would you elaborate on the purpose of this?

What issues or problems do you see here?

What evidence or data are given that help make this worthwhile?

What are some of the complexities we should consider?

What concepts help organize this data, these experiences?

How can you justify this information?

How can we verify or test that data?

What details can you add to make this information feel more complete?

Which set of data or information is most relevant or important?

How is all of this consistent or inconsistent?

How am I seeing or viewing this information? Objectively or subjectively? Should I then change my view?


These are only a sample of hundreds of questions you can potentially ask students. Remember to engage the students as a class, and facilitate an open framework of input. If open ended questions don't succeed for all students, simply entering these questions into quiz form are an effective alternative. 

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