Skip main navigation

Discussion of the process of questioning

Discussion of the process of questioning
So the purpose of this morning’s discussion is two-fold really. Firstly, we’re going to explore what your expectations of a university education is, what you think it will be like, how it will differ from your current education experience. And then linked into that is the role of questions, not only what questions we ask a lecturers to you but whether you feel, I suppose, comfortable with the thought of asking questions to us as academics and how that dynamic works at University. What are your expectations of lectures? I think, at University, its different to school, because you’re not being taught by a teacher. And the lecturers role is more to sort of offer guidance.
So I think they’ve got to try and impart their own knowledge on you, whilst also giving you the freedom to learn how to conduct your own studies.
Yes, yes. I’d agree with that. But again, I’m not entirely sure what it does entail. But I’m not sure how much guidance a certain lecture will give you, depending on the lecture size. Linking that back then to expectations, what would you expect from a university lecture, in terms of guidance? OK. I haven’t really thought about it a huge amount. But I’d expect guidance, as you’ve alluded to, but not specific help. So here at the Perse, we’d get help. We’d go up to a teacher and, basically, they could spoon feed you whatever you need to know, say, to pass an exam. I’d say, a lecturer might give you a reading list or something.
But then it would be up to you to– Go and read them. Yes. Yes, different. Any other difference? We agree with that point? Yeah, I agree. It’s a lot more independent learning. OK. How much independence do you have then at school, at this current point in time and then, linking that then to the types of materials that are available at school as well? Yes, I think, at school, it’s very much up to what sort of independence you have. Because I would say, the basic underlying message of your time at school is that, you’ve got to get through exams. Yeah, I think it’s up to you how much you won’t to do.
I think, especially in sixth form, because you’re mostly doing things that you’re passionate about. In the upper sec, you’re focusing on what you’re going to do at university. So that’s where you can go, and you can attend seminars in your subject. So you’re focusing more on one particular thing. In your minds, do you have almost a sub-question going, how is this question going to benefit me? I mean, I don’t think there’s any such thing as a pointless question, because you’re either going to get what you need for the exam out a lot of that or some kind of fulfilment yourself out of it, like your general knowledge.
So I think, any question you ask will be helpful to you in some way. What skills are needed then, to ask questions or to respond to questions at this point for you? What skills do you have? You have to have confidence. I think that’s the main thing. And also, you have to have a basic understanding of the topic that you’re being asked the question in. So before you would respond to a questions, say, in your processing, you’re going, have I got that knowledge to respond to it. Yeah, to back it up. So it’s coming back to the idea– I think, the idea of confidence to ask questions is a really nice one.
Are there any kind of processes that you could be given or you could do yourself, in order to generate that confidence, prior to a seminar session at university? What would make you feel more confident? Further research into what the lecture was about, especially for history, much further reading around subject. I think that would give you enough confidence to be able to put together a coherent argument for whatever. Speak to someone else about it, so maybe someone else who was at the same lecture, and see if they had a different take and maybe have a discussion about what you had.
So thinking about lecture then, in the context and preparing yourself for the seminar, what kind of processes would you go through, if you didn’t really understand what the lecturer was saying or the lecture content? Would you ask questions at that point? Well, I think that’s vital. If you don’t understand what is being taught to you in a lecture, I think you have to seek some sort of help, whether it be from the lecturer or someone that did understand what the lecture was about. I think you need to ask questions in that circumstance. Anyone else? I’d agree with that, because I think you have access to these people who know so much about your course and what you’re doing.
So I think it would be quite ignorant not to ask questions. I think, a bit of both, because obviously, the move from sixth form to university is quite a big step. But I think, also, it’s the opportunity to study the one subject that you really enjoy. So the opportunity the ask loads and loads of questions about it should be quite exciting, even though the environment is quite scary to begin with. I’d say, it takes a fairly brave person to go into a new city, a new establishment, and then just not be scared at all and just start asking questions at leisure.
Are there any times, or can you foresee any kind of scenarios where a lecturer would become quite irritable about the types of questions you’re asking? If you, say, for example, have a very ignorant view of a topic and very one-sided view and especially if you’re disagreeing with what the lecturer has viewed, then I’d say, they might become slightly irritated. If you’re asking something that was fully explained in the lecture and kind of hints that they weren’t actually paying attention or listening. Yeah, or it was on the PowerPoint slide or something. Yeah, and they could have gone away and read about it in a book.
For example, if you haven’t prepared a question well and you might ask some slightly irrelevant questions. Whereas, if you prepared and you know exactly what you want to know, then I think you’re going to get more out of it. Do you think us, as lecturers like being questioned? I think so. Well, to an extent I think, because partly that is your job, to question. And I think to be questioned is part of the job of being a lecturer. Because I think you would expect, at university level, your students to question you. But I don’t think lecturers should bothered by questions really. OK, anyone else? I think it demonstrates a passion for the subject.
So if someone is being brave enough, in a way, to come up to you and ask you about something and say that they disagree with something that you said, then I think that would be quite interesting to you, because it gives another perspective as well, to your discussion. That’s really reassuring, by the way. That’s good. Yeah, you would hope a lecturer would enjoy being challenged and enjoy defending their view of a certain subject.

Do the students in this video raise similar points that you have thought about?

Do you agree with what they are saying? How would you answer the questions the lecturer is asking?

This article is from the free online

Preparing for University

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now