Writing Beneficial Questions

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This article contains information on how to generate beneficial questions. If you need information on how to add custom questions to courses in the WDYT system, click here.

Be Formative

Use this opportunity to generate questions about pedagogical aspects of the course that might help you improve the course in future quarters.

Be Specific

Ask questions about one specific facet of your course at a time. For example, "How useful to your learning how to solve problems were the videos that were shown in class? [1 - Can't Evaluate; 2 - Not Useful; 3 - Somewhat Useful; 4 - Useful; 5 - Very Useful]".

In order to compare relative usefulness between different facets of your class, we recommend asking several questions about specific learning experiences or tools.

Ask Open Ended Questions

It is also possible to ask open-ended quiestions to measure the impact of a specific learning experience or tool. For example, "Please explain how watching the videos in class affected your ability to solve problems". As opposed to a quantitative question, the open ended question can provide more specific feedback, for example a student may answer "I liked the video on pressure as it helped me understand Bernoulli's equation". This feedback may be more useful to you and your course design than a quantitative answer from 1 to 5.

In general, open ended questions provide more information to the instructor, however it is more difficult and time consuming to identify patterns or prevalence of negative versus positive responses. 

Inspire Students to Reflect

Ask questions about how students interacted with your course materials. For example, "How frequently did you watch the exta-credit videos as suggested by the instructor? [1 - Never, 2 - A few times, 3 - Often, 4 - Almost always, 5 - Always]"

Include students in the course design process. Ask questions like, "What would you recommend to change about the class?" or "What did you find to be the biggest hindrance to your learning in this class?". Questions such as these make students feel included and encourage honest and helpful responses.

Be Goal Oriented

Have students compare their learning experience with the goals of the course over the entire quarter. For example, "How much did doing the nightly homework problems contribute to the goals of the course for you?".

No Leading Questions

Asking questions or providing answer responses that do not cover the entire range of possible responses will lead to biased answers. An example of a leading question would be "How would you rate the instructor's preparedness? [1 - Prepared; 2 - Well Prepared; 3 - Very Well Prepared; 4 - Extremely Prepared; 5 - Mega Prepared]". This question leads to biased responses because there is no negative response option. A good way to scale your answer responses is with 1 being the most negative option and 5 being the most positive option.

Avoid Complexity

Keep your questions concise and easy to read. Long questions can easily be misinterpreted and reduce the helpfulness of responses. Avoid multiple sub-clauses and double negatives.

Ask Repeatable Questions

Use questions that you can repeat quarter to quarter to gauge changes in the course over a longer time frame. For example, "How much was student participation encouraged in discussion section?" or "On average, how engaged did you feel during lecture?". These types of questions will allow you to better measure student engagement and may help you evaluate the pedagogical value of changes you make to your course from quarter to quarter.

Additional Resources