“Asking Good Questions is Half of Learning” Elijah Muhammad
As an educator, I feel Mr. Muhammad hit the nail on the head and today we will continue to look at the power of parent questioning. In the current climate created by the coronavirus, with many schools opting for online learning until the crisis is over, and also the rise in home-schooling globally (I will be writing an article about this soon), parents are ever-more important in today’s education.
As the face of education is changing rapidly in the 21st century, it is not just students and teachers that need to ask effective questions to encourage deep learning, but as we established in the previous post, parents also have the power to boost their child’s learning success, but are often over-looked in the learning process. Parents have a tremendous opportunity to enhance learning daily, if only they knew how ask the right questions.
Today we will continue to look at asking effective questions to help your child get the most out of their education and encourage deeper learning, which will help them to get the most out of their home study time. First, we will need look at the different levels of learning that students experience, but don’t worry, we aren’t going to get too technical!. To start, I need to introduce you to a gentleman by the name of Benjamin Bloom.
Mr. Bloom, along with a committee of educators in the 1940s and 50s, devised a “hierarchy” of six levels of knowledge that are used as educational objectives, each subsequent level ascends in importance, but all are needed to develop deep learning. Student learning begins at the bottom of the hierarchy and aims to reach the top. Please bear with me, the importance of this in how to ask your child effective questions will all become clear!. The featured image (https://www.niallmcnulty.com/2019/12/introduction-to-blooms-taxonomy/) demonstrates the six levels.
In short, Level 1 indicates the “shallowest” level of learning, where a student knows that something is right, for example, The Earth is one of the “terrestrial” planets in the solar system, but they may or may not know why it is right as they may not know (or have been taught yet) exactly what “terrestrial” means in this context).
So, to help your child attain deeper levels of learning while completing their homework, there are a series of questions that parents can ask which will help them “climb up” to the higher levels of learning indicated in the hierarchy. An important point to appreciate is that the level of questions asked depends at what stage your child is studying a particular topic. There is nothing to be gained from asking a “Level 5” question when your child has just started learning a topic and is most likely at Levels 1 or 2, as being unable to answer the question may be demoralising for you child, and may cause them to become insecure in their ability to complete the task. If in doubt, start with “lower level” questions at the beginning and then build to higher level questions as they progress in the topic.
There are many useful resources to find such questions (links can be found at the end of this article), listed here are just a few of my favourite questions to use, which I have found to be effective when interacting with my students;
Level 1 (Remembering): What is…? Who was…? When did….. happen?
Level 2 (Understanding): How would you compare…? Which is the best answer…? What is meant by…?
Level 3 (Applying): How would you use…? How would you solve…? What would happen if…?
Level 4 (Analysing): How is …… related to …..? Why do you think…? What is the function of…?
Level 5 (Evaluating): How would you improve…? What way would you design…? What conclusions can you draw…?
Level 6 (Creating): What is your opinion of…? Would it be better if…? Based on what you know, how would you explain…?
Just type the phrase “bloom’s taxonomy questions” into a search engine and you will be able to find many good sources providing a whole array of questions, there are even question sets that are specific for science, social studies, math and virtually any school subject you can think of! To get you started I have included some links below where you can download PDF documents that provide lists of questions that you can ask your child, of course you are free to rephrase these questions to suit your child’s age group and ability, the ultimate goal is to help them understand and use effectively what they know to deepen their learning.
Links: https://www.bloomstaxonomy.org/Blooms%20Taxonomy%20questions.pdf http://www.asainstitute.org/conference2013/handouts/20-Bloom-Question-Cues-Chart.pdf https://www.harford.edu/~/media/PDF/Student-Services/Tutoring/Using%20Blooms%20Taxonomy%20to%20Promote%20Critical%20Reading%20and%20Thinking%20Skills.ashx