- Good questions create conversation without putting anyone on the spot. Some of the best discussion questions solicit input from everyone present.
- Good questions focus on one thing. Make sure the questions designed are focused and clear. Rather than asking a multi-layered question, it is best to ask just one simple question and wait for responses before asking the next thing. Well focused questions also serve as a tool to keep bringing the group back around to the topic under discussion.
- Good questions can be understood by everyone. Keep questions simple enough that everyone has a reasonable chance of knowing what you mean the first time that you say it.
- Good questions say what they mean.
- Good questions are open ended. They compel students to think about the facts of a text or situation. We utilize this principle in everyday life.
For example: Over dinner, if I ask my partner “how was work today?” I may get a response of “fine”. And that question would be done. But if I ask, “Tell me something interesting that happened today at work?”, a specific incident has to be focused on, and a conversation can start. The same thing applies in group discussions.
- Good questions involve emotions. There is more to creating knowledge than intelligence, and there is more to discussing a topic than intellect. Instructors and/or discussion leaders need to involve people’s emotions, and questions are a great way to do that.
- Good questions deal with students interests. Sometimes it is good to connect a question with the current interests ans passions of the class.