Strategy 20: Asking Questions
Version Date: January 27, 2015
Asking questions, of yourself, of what you read, and especially of a
speaker or presenter (lecturer, teacher, professosr) provides a number
- Ask questions to stimulate
curiosity. Even if you are not initially curious, asking some
questions about a topic can bring your mind into a state of actually
wanting to know the answers. Questions especially helpful if you find
the material boring.
- Ask questions for clarification.
Some books and some presenters remain too abstract to be
understood easily. Asking for examples, details, or specifics can
go far to help clarify the point and enable you to comprehend it. In
the case of books or videos, you can't ask the source directly, but you
can take your question and search the Internet or an online database.
Or you can ask a friend, classmate, colleague, or other source.
- Ask questions to contextualize.
One of the most helpful learning reinforcer comes from fitting the
immediate learning into the overall context, the "big picture." It's
much easier to remember something that you understand as a part of some
larger, coherent whole, than if you simply try to memorize facts as
unrelalted to each other.
Here are some question types that you can use.
- The Journalistic Six.
When you read or hear something, the answers to some of the
journalistic six questions are answered as part of the presentation.
However, others are usually left out. Ask about what has been left out.
You'll recall that the six questions are Who, What, When, Where, Why,
- And then what? This is a
powerful question that asks what will happen after the presented
solution is put in place. The question encourages people to think
beyond the immediate situation to explore unintended consequences of
- What if? This question
can be used to launch a thought experiment, in which the idea under
discussion is taken to an imaginary result, either better than it was
or worse. For example, "What if that doesn't work? What is our back up
plan?" "What if we increase the number of burners in the oven?" "What
if the project runs into unexpected costs?"
Here are some sample questions.
The Seven Golden Questions of
Knowledge Clam Analysis
- What is the main point of the information (book, article, speech,
- What evidence does the author provide to support his conclusion?
- What information is missing?
- What is the author's worldview and how does it affect the
argument and conclusions?
Debriefing a Presentation
- What is the because? Why should this claim be believed? You
believe this because....
- How do they know that? Is the claim supported by experiments,
reasons, authority, evidence, expert opinion? Is the claim actually
- Can you clarify that? What does this mean? Can you provide an
example, a non-example, an analogy, comparison, contrast, metaphor,
- What's missing? Has anything been left out? Are there omitted
qualifiers, exceptions, limitations, prerequisited, necessary factors?
- Is it really true? Is it the whole truth? Has some of the claim
been exaggerated or omitted?
- And then what? What follows? What is implied? Are there
- How does it fit? How does this claim integrate with other
- What did you learn from this?
- How can you use this?
- What was the main point of the presentation?
- How will this change the way you do your job?
- Was the message or point of the presentation clear?
- What were your expectations before hearing the presentation?
- Were your expectations fulfilled?
- What was the most interesting part of the presentation?
- What did you find the most useful part?
- What do you still want to know?
- What do you still need to learn?
- What has this made you curious about?
A good way to get the most out of a presentation or interview is to ask
the presenter questions at the end of the specificity scale opposite to
the one emphasized by the presenter.
That is, if the presenter spoke in generalities or abstractions, ask
questions that require concrete answers, such as examples or specifics.
On the other hand, if the presenter told stories, offered details, and
left you wondering what it all means, ask questions from te abstract
end of the scale.
Learning Strategy 1: Mnemonics
Learning Strategy 2: Paraphrasing
Learning Strategy 3: Summarizing
Learning Strategy 4: Self Monitoring
Learning Strategy 5: Self Explanation
Learning Strategy 6: Mental Rehearsal
Learning Strategy 7: Self Assessment
Learning Strategy 8: The SQ3R Reading Method
Learning Strategy 9: Note Taking
Learning Strategy 10: The Leitner Flash Card
Learning Strategy 11: Maintaining Interest
Learning Strategy 12: Conversation
Learning Strategy 13: Group Interaction
Learning Strategy 14: Idea Mapping
Learning Strategy 15: Drawing Pictures
Learning Strategy 16: Study Cycles
Learning Strategy 17: Sleep and Rest
Learning Strategy 18: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 19: Learning Strategy Checklist
Learning Strategy 20: Asking Questions
Learning Strategy 21: Idea Linking
Learning Strategy 22: How to Use a Book
Learning Strategy 23: Active Listening
Learning Strategy 24: Close Reading
Learning Strategy 25: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 26: Power Thinking
Learning Strategy 27: Planning for Learning
Learning Strategy 28: Outlining
Learning Strategy 29: Analogies
2011 by Robert Harris | How
to cite this page
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About the author:
Harris is a writer
and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the
and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com