How to Encourage Students to Ask Questions to Improve

13 July, 2020
If teachers encourage the habit of asking questions in class, students will develop a growth mindset. In this article, discover how to encourage students to ask questions.

One of the great obstacles that teachers may face in their work is students who are afraid to ask for help. Therefore, it’s important to know how to encourage students to ask questions to improve, solve their doubts, and ask for help.

Daring to ask questions when students need to is directly related to a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.

Students must begin to believe they can learn a lot from anything by working hard. They also need to abandon the belief that the fixed mindset instills in them – the belief that they’re good at one particular thing but not as good at something else.

As a teacher, you must help them know how to ask for help and ask questions, since it’s a way of using their own resources to solve something. Asking a question and showing that they don’t know something and that there’s an interest in learning it shows strength and courage, not weakness. This is the perspective you must instill in students!

High school education, adolescence, and questions

Children in elementary school usually feel freer to ask all the questions they need to ask. But when they reach high school, they have a harder time asking for help.

How to Encourage Students to Ask Questions to Improve

They’re in a transition in which they just finished elementary school and started high school, with new people, new methods, and a new environment. They’re also dealing with the insecurities of adolescence. Many people are afraid to ask questions because they suppose that this will leave them exposed and discover some of their shortcomings.

In fact, they even feel embarrassed to ask many questions. As we mentioned above, this usually comes from their fixed mindset that doesn’t allow the growth mindset to develop, which is very necessary and positive for teaching and life in general.

Ideas to encourage students to ask questions to improve

Start when they’re small

Although we mentioned that the most difficult time for most students to dare to ask questions is during their transition from elementary to high school, this isn’t something that should be worked on from that moment.

Teachers should encourage students to ask questions to improve from a young age, with the idea that asking questions is a great strength and a symbol of courage. In this regard, interesting ideas include collaborating makes us grow and that it’s easier to work if you aren’t alone.

Encourage students to ask questions

Although it may seem obvious, this isn’t the first step. For example, you can create a reward system for students who ask questions, such as using gamification in the classroom. You can do it with positive points, making it very obvious or simply praising the fact that they ask questions.

If you want the “prize” to be very clear, you can make a log in which you record students who’ve asked questions or those who’ve asked for help and the reward they’ll receive. You can publish it every month in a fun way! For this, you can use a class blog (using information and communications technology) or make a list to hang on the wall.

You can agree on the prizes with the entire group. In fact, they can be somewhat symbolic or even an increase in the student’s final grade.

How to Encourage Students to Ask Questions to Improve

There are no stupid questions

We’ll never grow tired of repeating this phrase and allowing children to assimilate it: stupid questions don’t exist. Also, you should make them see that, many times, one person’s question may actually answer the question that many would like to ask. Thus, asking questions is a way for students to help themselves and the entire group.

Share personal experiences to encourage students

A teacher’s own personal experiences always attract students’ attention. Therefore, talking to them about when you were a student is always a good idea.

You can tell them things that make them feel identified, such as the subjects you were the best and worst at. Also, how difficult it was sometimes for you to ask questions and how useful you discovered it was when you finally dared to do it.

Don’t forget that if the students feel safe enough to take a chance, the change that will take place will be both significant and tangible. In short, it’s all about guiding them to help them develop their communication skills and boost their self-confidence.

  • Angelo, Thomas A. y K. Patricia Cross. Classroom assessment techniques. Jossey Bass Wiley. 2012.
  • Ryan, Allison M. y Paul R. Pintrich. ‘Should I ask for help?’ The role of motivation and attitudes in adolescents’ help seeking in math class. Journal of educational psychology. 1997.