How to ask a good question……

All questions are good questions….  

But how can you make a question a really amazing question. Because a really amazing question will get a really amazing answer!

Saint Louis University makes some comments in a piece on “Success in Mathematics” ….. about asking questions.

Asking Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Any question is better than no question at all (at least your Instructor/tutor will know you are confused). But a good question will allow your helper to quickly identify exactly whatyou don’t understand.

  • Not too helpful comment: “I don’t understand this section.” The best you can expect in reply to such a remark is a brief review of the section, and this will likely overlook the particular thing(s) which you don’t understand.
  • Good comment: “I don’t understand why f(x + h) doesn’t equal f(x) + f(h).” This is a very specific remark that will get a very specific response and hopefully clear up your difficulty.
  • Good question: “How can you tell the difference between the equation of a circle and the equation of a line?”
  • Okay question: “How do you do #17?”
  • Better question: “Can you show me how to set up #17?” (the Instructor can let you try to finish the problem on your own), or “This is how I tried to do #17. What went wrong?” The focus of attention is on your thought process.
  • Right after you get help with a problem, work another similar problem by yourself.

It’s so hard to answer a student who says “I don’t get it” …. I can go over it again and again… probably reinforcing what they don’t get. I just need a clue, a hint, the line, the phrase, the question, the answer, Something to work with… !

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