Benefits of Asking Open-Ended Questions in the Classroom

There are two types of questions: open ended questions and closed ended questions. The former allows us to collect more information and details while the latter is used for short, precise answers. 

Open ended questions often have subjective answers so there is never just one right answer. It allows the children to think critically and start discussions about possible answers. 

What are the benefits of asking open-ended questions in the classroom?

Young children are always curious about many different things in their surroundings. Sometimes, they are too shy to ask or open up about certain things. Asking open ended questions gives them a platform to share their thoughts and opinions. 

Asking open ended questions in the classroom demonstrates how the teacher values the children’s opinions and genuinely wants them to share their ideas. This also helps the children enhance their social skills. 

Children are creative, they have very vivid imaginations as they are filled with wonderment. For them, life is like an adventure where they get to learn new things and get to do new things.

Open-ended questions enable children to think creatively and gain new perspectives. They also get to learn new words and enhance their vocabulary. Being able to answer open-ended questions in a classroom also helps the child feel more confident. 

How the teacher phrases the question also matters in a classroom setting. The teacher needs to encourage cooperative participation from the students and not initiate a competition. 

Allowing children to beat around the bush and enable healthy conversations as they discuss possible answers helps the teacher to see that his/her students are actually putting efforts for something. At some point they may even start debating and adding fresh perspectives.

Open-ended questions in classes prevents monotony and boredom of a subject. It also provides a fresh attitude, pique’s the student’s interest, and academically builds on the subject that the teacher is teaching.

Asking open-ended questions also helps improve the student’s language skills. They are encouraged to speak up about new topics and ideas. The teacher can take this opportunity to correct and explain any grammatical errors in their language.

Open-ended questions are powerful tools of both learning and teaching in the classroom. Every teacher should incorporate open-ended questions into their teaching method. 

What are Open-Ended Questions?

Open-ended questions are the kinds of questions that have very subjective, lengthy answers. There is often no one right answer and it encourages you to think creatively. Open-ended question’s answers are never just one word answers. 

Some examples of open-ended questions in a classroom:

The following are a few examples of open-ended questions:

  • What do you think this picture is telling us?
  • What did you learn from this lesson today?
  • What is the best thing about you?
  • What makes you a good friend?
  • What do you think your friends like about you?
  • How would you help the main character in the story?
  • What kind of things do you dream about?
  • What do you want to do when you grow up?
  • How do you feel when someone is being mean to you?
  • How do you react to surprise parties?
  • Why is it important to go to school?
  • If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be and why?

How do you form good open-ended questions?

Open-ended questions need to be formed in such a way that it would allow the child critical thinking and give them space to express their ideas. The teacher needs to genuinely raise curiosity in the child and an eagerness to learn about something new.

While forming questions in their minds, teachers should be mindful of the fact that they should not anticipate one correct answer from the students. They need to be open about the number of possibilities that a student can answer. 

Forming open-ended questions can be quite challenging for a teacher. Getting shy children to try to speak up can pose a challenge in a classroom.  A lot of thought and effort go into forming open-ended questions. 

Generally, open-ended questions begin in the following way – “Why do you feel that…?”, “What do you think…?”, “How would you…?”, “If…then…?”, and so on.

When do you ask an open-ended question?

In a classroom, the best time to ask an open-ended question would be right at the beginning of the class. Getting students familiar and excited about the new topic can be advantageous for the teacher as the students would be more willing to pay attention. 

 It is also beneficial to ask an open-minded question when you feel that the subject is quite dry or that the atmosphere of the class is getting dull and boring. Asking an open-ended question at this point will help wake up the sleepy backbenchers as well. 

Asking open-ended questions towards the end of a class can be a great way to finish as it would leave them thinking and imagining possible outcomes. This would also excite them for the next class and give them something to look forward to.

Another great time to use open-ended questions is when the teacher wants constructive feedback. The students can answer by stating what they like about the class/subject/teaching style and what they don’t like.

This gives the teacher good insights on what may or may not be working for the students. It also gives the teacher a scope for improving their method of teaching, in order to provide a good learning opportunity for the students. 

Open-Ended Questions VS Closed-Ended Questions in a Classroom

There are advantages and disadvantages for both types of questions. While Open-ended questions have longer, more detailed answers, closed-ended questions ideally have shorter, crisp answers. 

When the teacher wants to rush through their lesson, they typically ask closed-ended questions so as to save time as well as keep the students engaged. The teacher asks open-ended questions when they want to explore different possibilities or outcomes.

Closed-ended questions are more direct and easy to answer, they are generally ‘yes-no’ types of questions. Whereas, open ended questions challenge the students to think outside the box and answer in detail.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed the different benefits of open-ended questions in the classroom. We also looked at what open-ended questions are, some examples of open-ended questions, how to form open-ended questions, when to use open-ended questions, and lastly, the difference between open-ended and closed-ended questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Benefits of Open-Ended Questions

What are the advantages of using open-ended questions?

There are many advantages to using open-ended questions. Here are a few advantages:

  • Using open-ended questions helps in getting different perspectives from people.
  • These questions can be a useful tool to get a closed/shy person to open up. 
  • They can be great conversation starters in any domain.
  • They help us think critically and creatively.
  • These questions invoke a sense of wonderment.
  • They improve out-of-the-box thinking. 
  • It improves our language and communication skills.

Why use open-ended questions in the classroom?

Using open-ended questions can prove to be quite advantageous for both the student and the teacher. Here is why:

  • Open-ended questions provide a good opportunity for open and healthy discussions.
  • They enhance the student’s thinking capacity.
  • They give the teachers fresh perspectives.
  • Open-ended questions help build communication and language skills in students.
  • They challenge the student’s cognitive intelligence. 
  • These questions also help the class stay fun and lively.

What are the benefits of asking open questions?

The following are the benefits of asking open questions:

  • There are limitless possible outcomes.
  • Gives you different perspectives from different people.
  • There is always more than one right answer.
  • Provides you with a deeper meaning or objective. 
  • You get various ideas that may be outside the box. 
  • More details and descriptions of the topic.

Why do children benefit from being asked open-ended questions?

Children have a very creative and imaginative mind. Sometimes, they need a direction for their thoughts. Asking them open-ended questions gives them a direction for their creative thoughts. 

Children are more curious about the world than adults. Their innocence and wonderment can also provide new perceptions about things in life. The more curious children are, the more eager they are to learn new things. 

A teacher can help build on a child’s curiosity by asking them open-ended questions. Children that question things early on in life can benefit from open-ended questions in the classroom. They also learn how to debate in a positive and healthy fashion.  

Citations

https://brighted.funeducation.com/News/Common-Core-State-Standards-News/why-are-open-ended-questions-important
https://www.seattleymca.org/blog/benefits-open-ended-questions

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