Critical Incident Questionnaires

A Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ) can be used to explore the learner’s experience of your lesson content and events surrounding it.

A CIQ focuses on critical moments or actions in a lesson, as judged by the learners.

The CIQ asks students five questions to feedback their response to aspects of lessons and to focus on what is helping or hindering their learning.

The responses can be kept anonymous and the CIQs can be given at the end of a lesson or at the end of the week. You can tailor the questionnaire by just asking a couple of questions.

Some teachers send the questions digitally so there is an audit trail and record of responses.

The idea for using CIQ comes from Brookfield, S. J. and Preskill, S. (1999) Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for a Democratic Classroom.

Example questions:

1. At what moment this week were you most engaged as a learner?
2. At what moment this week were you most distanced as a learner?
3. What action or contribution taken this week by anyone in the course did you find most affirming or helpful?
4. What action or contribution taken this week by anyone in the course did you find most puzzling or confusing?
5. What surprised you most about the course this week?

CIQs provide practical and essential feedback on student engagement and resistance and they can also reveal subtleties in the classroom that may not be evident.

Stephen Brookfield describes 5 advantages of using CIQs as follows:

1. They Alert Us To Problems Before They Are Disasters

2. They Encourage Students to be Reflective Learners

3. They Build a Case for Diversity in Teaching

4. They Build Trust

5. They Suggest Possibilities for Our Development

CIQs can help us understand our students better and avoid those horrible distancing moments and unhelpful actions we might unwittingly promote.

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