Supporting, encouraging or confronting learners in a useful way is a mastery that comes with years of practice. In this tool I am proposing to look into deepening learning of participants by asking them probing questions.
Why did I choose this tool? I chose this tool, because I believe that asking the right questions at a right time is the most powerful tool of learning. Also since I find probing questions not that easy to master, I propose to start with getting acquainted to examples of them and start introducing them one by one into your training practice.
How does this apply to being a trainer? In the training job we are aiming to make people think and reflect deeply about the topic, the tasks, the group, themselves. This is not easy, as one of the participants said to me recently: “It is difficult, because I need to think on my own. I’m not used to that”. Asking probing questions does not allow people to get away with the written truths or repeating opinions of others. It makes people go deeper and understand what is the thing that they are actually thinking or feeling.
Read through 2 pages on probing questions guide. http://schoolreforminitiative.org/doc/probing_questions_guide.pdf
Now take these questions and transform them into questions that would encourage deeper, wider or critical thinking.
- That presentation was fantastic, wasn’t it?
- Was it difficult for you?
- How happy or unhappy are you with the group?
- Do you think the workshop helps you understand it better?
- What was useful in this activity?
- The new task will be based on what we’ve discussed, won’t it?
- Don’t you think that you can do better?
- Why didn’t you ask for help?
- Did you like the activity?
- What are the 5 stages of group dynamics?
- What was the most powerful question you were ever asked?
- What makes a question powerful?
- How do you (or could you) decide when it is suitable to ask probing questions and when – not?
- What are the situations when you think you should avoid probing questions?
How to apply it in everyday life:
Knowing how the questions should be asked is not enough. It also takes active listening skills and finding the right time to ask these questions. Practice asking probing questions whenever possible and find the most suitable way for you to provoke people’s thinking.