A simple teaching technique that helps students learn; now there’s something few teachers would pass up! This particular technique involves a four-question set that gets students actively responding to the material they are studying. They analyze, reflect, relate, and question via these four prompts:

  • “Identify one important concept, research finding, theory, or idea … that you learned while completing this activity.”
  • “Why do you believe that this concept, research finding, theory, or idea … is important?”
  • “Apply what you have learned from this activity to some aspect of your life.”
  • “What question(s) has the activity raised for you? What are you still wondering about?” [You might need to prohibit the answer “nothing”.]

Dietz-Uhler and Lanter, who authored the set, had students in an introductory psych course answer the questions about a Web-based activity that they had completed in groups. Alexander, Commander, Greenberg, and Ward used the set to promote critical thinking in an online course. Their students answered the questions before discussing a case online.

The question set is versatile. Here are some examples of how it could be used.

  • Use the four prompts as a way to summarize an in-class discussion, adjusting the wording of the questions: “Identify one important idea that you learned during this discussion,” etc.
  • Have students answer the questions about a reading assignment. Dietz-Uhler and Lanter had students write 100-word responses to the first three prompts. Written answers could be shared in small group discussions.
  • At the beginning of class, give students five minutes to write answers to the questions as a way of reviewing notes taken in a previous class session. Or, have students submit answers online before class and use sample responses to review the material. … Read More