Effective Questioning to Facilitate Dynamic Online Learning

Effective Questioning to Facilitate Dynamic Online Learning

Silvia Braidic (California University of Pennsylvania, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-150-6.ch021
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Teaching is a complex activity that involves careful preparation, delivery and reflection. As an educator, it is essential to create a sense of community in which students feel significant and are truly engaged as learners. A central focus of the educator is to maximize the capacity of each learner. How does this happen in an online learning environment? This chapter addresses the needs of learners for a learning community that promotes effective discussion; specifically, the practice of questioning that lies at the heart of classroom practice. Just as in a face to face classroom, questioning occurs in a variety of ways for online learners. The chapter shares ideas for effective questioning strategies in an online environment.
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In the book, Technology Literacy Applications in Learning Environments edited by David Carbonara, Tomei states “Technology plays a significant role in changing the instructional environment by promoting the role of the teacher as a guide in educational discovery, serving as a resource to the student-as-information gatherer.” In an online environment, just as in a traditional classroom, you have a spectrum of learners. As an instructor, how do you begin to address the needs of the spectrum of learners in your classroom and create a learning community that promotes effective discussion? Different instructional practices help students learn in meaningful ways. One particular teaching strategy that is utilized in both traditional and online courses is discussion. Questioning is a significant instructional design element for the promotion of effective discussion (Muilenburg & Berge, 2000). Research on online education consistently finds that high and consistent interaction levels between students and the professor, and high interaction levels between the students themselves, is often seen as a positive variable (Johnson, Aragon, Shaik, & Palmas-Rivas, 2000; Berge & Collins, 1996; Tu, 2000; Muirhead, 2001; Blignaut & Trollip, 2003; Vonderwell, 2003). Akin and Neal (2007) state, “Most online instructors, aware of how important student participation is to online learning, will realize that s/he must produce solid educational discussion questions that also engage. These good questions must also be sound in terms of learning theory, be big enough to engage online classes with possibly 30 or more learners, and long enough to last a module.” Questioning provides students with an opportunity to challenge their thinking. As teachers, we are constantly asking questions. Asking questions that require higher level thinking is not an easily acquired skill. Good questioning takes thinking time, planning ahead, and experience. Using effective questioning strategies, teachers restructure their online classroom to engage students in higher level thinking. Questioning can not only help students meet course goals and objectives, but it also engages all students, and improves the quality of teaching and learning at all levels. An excellent first step in differentiating online is to increase the challenge and variety of your class discussions, activities, and assignments through questioning. By paying attention to the kinds of questions you ask, you can stimulate learning with a wide range of learners in your online classroom based on their readiness, interests, and learning style. In order to use the discussion method effectively, it is critical to understand how to design and maintain an online discussion so that all learner needs are met. In order to do so, questioning is an integral focus.

Why Question?

Questions are an important part of communication. It is probably safe to say that questioning is at the heart of classroom practice. Research in classroom behavior indicates that cueing and questioning might account for as much as eighty percent of what occurs in a given classroom on a given day (Marzano, 2001). In Marzano’s book, Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, he indicated four generalizations as it related to questioning(p.113-114):

  • 1.

    Cues and questions should focus on what is important as opposed to what is unusual.

  • 2.

    “Higher level” questions produce deeper learning than “lower level” questions.

  • 3.

    “Waiting” briefly before accepting responses from students has the effect of increasing the depth of students’ answers.

  • 4.

    Questions are effective learning tools even when asked before a learning experience.

I would propose that these generalizations also hold true for an online learning environment. All students need to be accountable for thinking at higher levels. Some students will be challenged by a more basic question, while others will need more. As in a traditional face to face setting, all students can hear and learn through a wide range of responses and questions; so it is also true in an online setting where students may engage in oral and written responses and discussion.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Mara H. Washburn
Many Western nations face a critical shortage of skilled professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). However, despite... Sample PDF
Media and Women in Technology
Chapter 2
David Gefen, Nitza Geri, Narasimha Paravastu
Threaded discussions are one of the central tools of online education. These tools enhance student learning and compensate for the lack of social... Sample PDF
The Gender Communication Gap in Online Threaded Discussions
Chapter 3
Princely Ifinedo
In this study, we investigate the influence of two external influences i.e., Ease of finding and Computer anxiety on the technology acceptance model... Sample PDF
The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and the Continuance Intention
Chapter 4
Thanakorn Wangpipatwong
In this article, the study of how a constructivist e-learning system affects students’ learning outcomes was explored and a two-phase study was... Sample PDF
The Influence of Constructivist E-Learning System on Student Learning Outcomes
Chapter 5
Andreas Wiesner-Steiner, Heike Wiesner, Heidi Schelhowe, Petra Luck
This article presents substantial results from two projects that deal with teaching and learning with digital media in basic and higher education... Sample PDF
The Didactical Agency of Information Communication Technologies for Enhanced Education and Learning
Chapter 6
Daniel J. Shelley
E-learning and e-pedagogy continues to grow in importance in the delivery of higher education, due in part to the cost of higher education, a... Sample PDF
Comparative Analyses of Online and Traditional Undergraduate Business Law Classes: How Effective is E-Pedagogy?
Chapter 7
Ido Millet
Data Flow Diagrams and Use Cases are two popular methodologies in teaching as well as in practice. For the last 4 years, we have been using both... Sample PDF
Student Perceptions of Data Flow Diagrams vs. Use Cases
Chapter 8
Hong Lin
Agent-oriented design has become one of the most active areas in the field of software engineering. The agent concept provides a focal point for... Sample PDF
Promoting Undergraduate Education with Agent Based Laboratory
Chapter 9
Tony Jewels, Rozz Albon
For optimum workplace effectiveness in knowledge-intensive industries in which principles of knowledge management need to be applied, it is... Sample PDF
Supporting Arguments for Including the Teaching of Team Competency Principles in Higher Education
Chapter 10
Lawrence Tomei
This article helps classroom teachers create an “Interactive Lesson,” a self-paced, student-controlled, individualized learning opportunity embedded... Sample PDF
Creating an Interactive PowerPoint Lesson for the Lesson
Chapter 11
Chris Thompson, Zane L. Berge
This chapter briefly profiles three virtual schools, each at a different stage of development, yet each dependent upon a successful and sustained... Sample PDF
Planning Staff Training for Virtual High Schools
Chapter 12
MarySue Cicciarelli
Research shows that training prospective online instructors in an online learning environment is advantageous. One effective training topic is on... Sample PDF
Training Prospective Online Instructors: Theories Utilized by Current Online Instructors
Chapter 13
Michael Fedisson, Silvia Braidic
Seventh grade students were tested on their knowledge of sentences and nouns in a language arts classroom. This study was conducted over a two-year... Sample PDF
The Impact of PowerPoint Presentations on Student Achievement and Student Attitudes
Chapter 14
Henry H. Emurian
Information systems students in a graduate section and an undergraduate section of an introductory Java graphical user interface course completed... Sample PDF
Teaching Java™: Managing Instructional Tactics to Optimize Student Learning
Chapter 15
John DiMarco
This research project investigated the existence of web portfolios on academic websites in New York State. It cites disappointing results when... Sample PDF
Toward an Increase in Student Web Portfolios in New York Colleges and Universities
Chapter 16
Marianne Döös, Eva R Fåhræus, Karin Alvemark, Lena Wihelmson
Conducting a dialogue on the Web is a matter of linking thoughts in digital conversations. Dialogue differs from discussion by not being aimed at... Sample PDF
Competent Web Dialogues: Text-Based Linking of Thoughts
Chapter 17
Jeffrey Hsu
A number of new communications technologies have emerged in recent years which were originally used primarily for personal and recreational... Sample PDF
Employing Interactive Technologies for Education and Learning: Learning-Oriented
Chapter 18
Matthew Shaul
As a socially constructive learning tool, discussion forums remain central to online education. They have continued to evolve in functionality... Sample PDF
Assessing Online Discussion Forum Participation
Chapter 19
Solomon Negash, Michelle Emerson, John Vandegrieft
An empirical analysis was conducted to compare synchronous hybrid e-Learning environment with traditional classrooms. Empirical study with 165... Sample PDF
Synchronous Hybrid E-Learning: Empirical Comparison with Asynchronous and Traditional Classrooms
Chapter 20
Diane Hui, Donna L. Russell
Effectiveness of professional development is affected by the quality of social interaction. This study examines how online collaborative dialogues... Sample PDF
Understanding the Effectiveness of Collaborative Activity in Online Professional Development with Innovative Educators through Intersubjectivity
Chapter 21
Silvia Braidic
Teaching is a complex activity that involves careful preparation, delivery and reflection. As an educator, it is essential to create a sense of... Sample PDF
Effective Questioning to Facilitate Dynamic Online Learning
Chapter 22
Cindy S. York
This article briefly reviews two important goals in online education: interaction and presence. These are important goals in online education... Sample PDF
Transitioning from Face-to-Face to Online Instruction: How to Increase Presence and Cognitive/Social Interaction in an Online Information Security Risk Assessment Class
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