Have you ever run out of time just when a class discussion became interesting?
Would you like to hear opinions of the quiet students who get lost in the crowd?
Would you like to enhance the critical thinking level of your students?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, consider the advantages of moving some class discussions online.
This site will acquaint you with strategies, ideas, and examples to help you craft online discussion questions. You can investigate how to use questions to achieve specific learning outcomes, guide the discussion process, and provide meaningful feedback to your students.
Through the use of online questioning strategies you can expect the following benefits:
How do you ask a question to elicit the level of thinking/learning that you want?
Well-defined questions and their appropriate use not only help students understand content on a basic level but also can guide them in elaborative and critical thinking about content. Varied types of questions can help create the appropriate learning environment for your students.
You'll notice that these types of questions relate directly to Bloom's Taxomony of Educational Objectives, Cognitive Domain .
Use the links in the menu below to learn how to compose these types of questions.
Frame analytic questions to target relationships among concepts, ideas, and information.
Use analytic questions to help the learner become conscious of his/her learning process and to learn the rules and principles that provide the foundation to reach a valid conclusion.
Consider the recent natural disasters. Discuss the changes we may expect if many tornadoes strike Kansas and Oklahoma in the near future.
Analysis asks the student to break information down into its parts and identify patterns and rules. It requires that students form assumptions and identify relationships. E-mail, chat, and discussion provide online opportunities to examine students' analysis skills and model them to other students.
Use analytic online strategies so that all students the opportunity to actively participate, contribute, and be heard.
Frame application questions to present problems that approximate real-life situations. The idea is to enable learners to practice the principles they have encountered.
Use application questions to explore knowledge and solve problems. They allow a learner to deal with content information as a whole and use it in a new and practical way.
Looking at a map of Louisana, discuss possible locations for people who may eventually commute to work in New Orleans rather than live in the city.
Application questions ask the learners to act on the knowledge they possess. They ask the students to apply what they know to a new or different situation. Depending on the depth and detail of response you wish to obtain, you may wish to use synchronous (same time) or asynchronous tools.
Use comprehension questions when you want the learner to be able to translate information, extrapolate ideas, or interpret information. The student is asked to be literal in his/her thinking.
Use comprehension questions to have the students use content information. Ask them to translate that information into a new form which displays their understanding of the material.
Compare the natural resources of Pennsylvania and Texas.
Comprehension of material suggests that students be asked to convey their perception of the information. Depending on the level of student knowledge that you want to target, you can use either synchronous or asynchronous techniques that allow the learner to demonstrate their understanding of the content.
Chat, discussion, and e-mail can be used to check comprehension. For instance. ask students to paraphrase the important concepts of an assigned reading via e-mail. Or provide opportunity for students and instrutor to chat.
Frame evaluative questions to assess information acquisition and understanding. Ask the learner to appraise and defend their understanding during all levels of learning.
Use evaluative questions when you want the student to evaluate information according to a set of criteria and justify his/her belief.
Select a recent news article about a natural disaster to discuss within your team. Answer questions such as:
Evaluation requires that the students have time to gather resources and reflect to support their opinions. A significant advantage is that online forums can give a voice to all students who may not necessarily be heard in the traditional classroom. Discussions can also be heated and emotional, but an online environment can help defuse potentially argumentative discourse.
Frame factual questions to target factual information needed for recall or restatement of concepts. In factual questions, the student is NOT asked to compare or relate material or make any inductive or deductive leaps.
Use factual questions to draw out factual answers, check recall, or recognize critical information.
When did the United States enter World War II?
Factual recall implies immediate dexterity with information so your online strategy should be synchronous in nature (e.g., create an online quiz with short answers or matching or provide Q&A in a chat room).
These online techniques can help students review online for a test, help students stay updated on reading assignments, or gauge student preparation/understanding of text information.
Frame synthesis questions in a way that encourages students to engage in creative and original thinking.
Use synthesis questions to ask the learner to incorporate integrated knowledge and combine elements into patterns not clearly visible before.
Work together as a team to write a fictitious short story about a natural disaster in this town.
Synthesis requires that students consider alternative possibilities and create new solutions. Technology can provide students with an educational environment that encourages their thought processes and exposes them to their classmates' ideas.
Use Web sites, listservs, and discussion spaces to share ideas and opinions and to respond and reflect on ideas. These experiences can serve as a catalyst for student creativity.
Remember that out-of-class assignments involve time commitments from you and your students. Therefore, it's a good idea to carefully consider who will be doing what and how long it will take.
One very good method for clearly envisioning expectations throughout the course is to make a chart with a time line for the semester with columns on the chart indicating in-class and out-of-class assignments and the time expectations for you and your students. Also, this method allows you to see how your assignments are distributed throughout the course.
Some students tend to procrastinate, so make them aware of deadlines and grade dependence. For example, as part of an assignment, students could be required to make two responses a week.
Some management tips are:
Online discussions allow for various types of contact:
Actively engaging students in critical thinking is at the heart of the questioning process. To foster this process, we must guide and support the learners' critical thinking.
There are two basic types of critical thinking strategies: those that enhance the focusing of ideas and those that extend patterns of thought.
By identifying the direction that was taken during a class discussion, you can assess and redirect the conversational thread. Identify the central and divergent themes in order to:
Act as a clearinghouse to sort and prioritize thoughts and points through:
Identify Main Points
Question for inquiry in order to:
Connect points in order to gain a more global view. Also,
Encourage multiple points of view by
This outline has been modified and adapted from information from the Concord Consortium .
Critical thinking means making sure the meaning and importance of things that are carefully looked into or expressed or relating to a given conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning. It can also be an argument. The conclusion however is always checked. It often demands thinking apart casually and judging common as well as our own beliefs. I think the best way to practice critical thinking is by focusing on something and have a quite deep thought about it. Students very much benefit from this kind of strategies. online mba  would also help them in getting to their goals soon. Just make sure to keep your mind very open though! Controversial subjects usually pop up in this kind of thinking!