OER4Schools/Strategies for increasing participation in answering questions

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Resource details
Title Strategies for increasing participation in answering questions
Topic Questioning,  OER4Schools,  Teacher Education Resources for Sub-Saharan Africa


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This resource is part of the OER4Schools programme.

  • Selecting volunteers – a common method. Ask pupils who know the answer to raise their hands and select one of them to answer.
  • Random selection – Write name of every pupil on a piece of paper or an ice lolly stick and put them into a container. Pull out a name (without looking) to select a pupil to answer.
  • Teacher nominations - or “no hands up”. Choose specific pupils to answer your question. Select pupils who generally volunteer as well as pupils who avoid volunteering.
  • Pupil nominations – Ask the pupil who has just answered to nominate the next speaker (change strategy if same pupils are getting the chance to speak).
  • Talking tokens – Cut tokens out of thick paper. Give 2-5 tokens per child depending on the duration of the lesson. Every pupil has to use their tokens by answering questions. (Define use of tokens depending on your lesson, for example, pupils can use tokens by asking questions, volunteering to write on blackboard etc).
  • Mini-blackboard display – Every pupil should write their answer on a mini-blackboard and hold up to show the answer. Then select five pupils who have different answers to stand in the front and further question them about their answer.
  • Advance selection – Tell pupils who are shy and have fear of giving wrong answers some of the questions that you intend to ask, before the lesson. Ask them to think of an answer and select them for answering.
  • Eye contact – Avoid eye contact with dominant speakers. Have a deliberate eye contact with shy pupils indicating that you are expecting them to answer.
  • Talk about participation – Plan a lesson that explains usefulness of participation and eliminates fear of wrong answers. Ask pupils to suggest ideas that will help them to participate yet be responsible for discipline.
  • Criteria based – If the topic for the day is not serious, set a criterion to select pupils for answering. For example, come forward to answer this question if, ‘you have red shoes, or ‘your name ends with s’, or ‘you are the first child in the family’, or ‘you have one younger sister’, etc