Active Assessment Using ‘Ques-cussions’

If you are looking to challenge thinking and promote novel learning conversations then ‘Ques-cussion’ encourages students to discuss a topic using only questions – no answers or statements allowed!

Ques-cussion is an effective way of generating discussion and learning because asking questions pushes students to structure and scaffold their thinking resulting in a deeper understanding of the content.

When we limit a discussion by only asking questions then we are encouraging students to generate a variety of thoughts about a topic or an idea without requiring them to directly state their own solutions, opinions or views.

In terms of active assessment, the quality of questions asked by students enables you to gauge the level of sophistication students are working at. Students choose questions at their own level of understanding but  benefit from higher level questions by their peers.

What to do
  • This is an activity for around 10-15 minutes.
  • Divide the class into small group of 6-8 students.
  • Begin the Ques-cussion using a stimulus such as a problem, a controversial statement, a provocative question, a misconception, a video clip or a multimedia presentation.
  • Students may only respond by asking a question and this does not necessarily have to be related to the previous question.
  • No one needs to raise a hand to ask a question.
  • If someone makes a statement then this has to be reframed as a question.
  • Questions are recorded, perhaps using a document camera such as the Hue HD Pro.
  • At the end of Ques-cussion, the class can select to focus discussion on a handful of the questions raised and discussed in detail but without the restriction of just asking questions.
  • This activity works best when it is kept to around 10 minutes.

‘Quescussion’ is a strategy invented by Paul Bidwell in the University of Saskatchewan English Department and promotes higher order questioning skills.

This strategy prompts students to reflect on what they know and what they don’t so they can extend their thinking by generating follow-up questions.

For example, when looking at An Inspector Calls and using the trigger ‘Mr Birling’ then what ‘ques-cussions’ could follow?

  • Who is Mr Birling?
  • Why does Mr Birling see himself as untouchable?
  • When does Mr Birling think he has got away with murder?
  • Which group(s) in society does Mr Birling represent?

 

Take a look at the following video for more ideas:

 

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