Back to education? Here are some tips to help you thrive – part 3, on the subject of questions in class

  1. Understandably, students may have questions during class. This is absolutely fine and in fact is useful for the rest of the class. As Irish people, being the polite types that we are, if we don’t understand the point that our lecturer is making, we can sometimes be too polite to question or indeed challenge our lecturer. So, questions during classes can be useful for a number of reasons:
    1. Questions asked during class can be helpful for other students as if one student is unsure of something, it is quite possible that other students may be having the same difficulty. So it is good to share the question and indeed the lecturers response.
    2. Questions provide valuable feedback for lecturers who are committed to enhancing the learning of their students. Questions help lecturers refine their material in order to assist in greater understanding amongst students.

    In saying that, students should consider the following before interrupting their lecturer with a question:

    1. Is the question related to the content that the lecturer is currently presenting?
    2. Is there a chance that the lecturer may answer that question later in the class? If so, write the question down.

    Here is the tip. What I am trying to get at here is that sometimes students are so engaged in the content, they start thinking ahead (which is great) and lots of questions start popping into their mind (also great). The thing is, chances are that in the hours, weeks and months researching that particular topic, your lecturer also asked the same questions and so, will integrate the answers to those questions into their classes.
    So, give lecturers a chance to present what they want to present because chances are they will answer that question during the class. If for some reason they don’t answer the question by the end of the class, then by all means fire away and ask.

  2. This is useful particularly for larger classes but you should consider if your question will be helpful for the rest of the class. If it’s not, then maybe it’s not a question to interrupt your lecturer, and the rest of your class with. I mention this because I notice that some students aren’t shy at all about asking questions that are only applicable to them. While I admire their motivation, I think it’s unfair to interrupt other peoples learning time in this way. For many lecturers, managing these kinds of questions / students doesn’t really pose a problem but I notice that some guest lecturers may be too polite and so can waste class time getting distracted and answering questions that have nothing to do with the topic they are there to speak about.
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