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Rosenshine's 5 tips for engaging students with questions

Rosenshine’s 5 tips for engaging students with questions

4 min read
  • Questioning, Cold-Calling & Wait Times
  • Rosenshine’s Principles

Are you tired of the lingering silence you get after asking your class a question, forcing you to pick someone to answer? You’re not alone – but thankfully, Barak Rosenshine has highlighted five potential solutions for this problem.

Before we dive in, let’s have a look at Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, why questions are important to use in the classroom and how you can get your students to respond to you.

What are Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction?

In 2012, Rosenshine proposed 10 Principles of Instruction that can be implemented into your everyday teaching. They aim to address how people learn and acquire new information. It also suggests how teachers can implement effective classroom strategies.

As they offer a much-needed bridge between research and practice, they are becoming increasingly popular in education.

Help your staff understand the research behind Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, and how to apply them in the classroom.

What can your students gain from participating more in class?

Retrieval Practice

Generating an answer to a question, also known as retrieval practice, allows your students to recall previously-learnt knowledge. This helps create stronger memory traces, making it more likely to be transferred into your long-term memory.

Developing metacognitive skills

Metacognition is the ability to critically analyse how you think and have more control over your thoughts.

Asking questions that encourage students to monitor or evaluate their learning can help them develop these skills. In turn, it can allow your students to become independent learners, be more resilient and develop more grit.

Improving their academic performance

Participating more in class by answering questions can help improve your students’ academic performance.

In a previous study, researchers found that students who participated often performed 25% better on their exams than their peers who didn’t contribute much in class. Therefore, encouraging less engaged students to answer more questions can have a significant impact for their academic performance.

Reducing your stress levels

After asking a question, it can be frustrating to look into the classroom and get a bunch of silent stares in response. This, on top of the long hours, huge workload and constantly adapting teaching environments can cause a lot of stress and may even result in burnout. Therefore, by having your students participate more in class, it can help relieve a bit of the stress you may experience.

To find out more about the impact that emotional labour can have on teachers’ well-being, check out this blog.

Promoting a positive classroom culture

Having a good classroom culture can help your students learn and thrive. This includes valuing every student, building a learning-focused environment and promoting good behaviour. When students participate more often in class, they can feel psychologically safe and be more confident to ask questions.

Rosenshine’s 5 tips for engaging students with questions

5 strategies Rosenshine suggests to get a response from your students

1. Tell an answer to a neighbour

Using this strategy can help promote peer work, which has shown to have many advantages. Firstly, it will allow students to develop a new perspective as they experiment with different techniques to come up with the right answer. It can also help students to develop better teamwork skills and improve their communication.

2. Summarise the answer in one or two sentences

This allows students to engage more deeply with the material and figure out the most important pieces of the information to use. This method is also used as a note taking technique, called the Cornell Note Taking Method.

3. Write the answer down before sharing it

Writing down the answer is particularly useful as it gives students a bit more time to think about the question and process it before sharing it with the class. Having a few extra seconds, which is also known as having a longer wait time, can lead to greater gains in students’ learning.

4. Raise your hand if you know the answer

This strategy is particularly useful for quieter students. Often, they might know the answer but not feel confident enough to say it in front of the whole class. By asking them to raise their hand, they may feel less pressurised and therefore would participate more in the class. This is also useful for you, as you can easily check who knows the material and who doesn’t.

5. Raise your hand if you agree with an answer that someone else shared

Using this final strategy will not only help promote a better classroom culture but ensure that students are paying attention in class. For the student who answered the question, it can also boost their confidence by visually seeing their peers agree with them.

Final thoughts

As students become more engaged with the class, they can gain many benefits for their academic performance. One way to encourage this is by using Rosenshine’s suggested strategies. In doing so, we can help facilitate discussion and increase the rate of learning that happens in your class.

To start using Rosenshine’s Principles at your school, book our Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction CPD workshop.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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