The quality of questions that learners are confronted by will determine how deeply they need to frame their thoughts to provide an adequate response. All teachers are aware of the difference between open and closed questions, where open questions require more than a yes/no response, but few give time for students to contemplate a little before assembling their responses.
Teaching to a large class tends to exacerbate this problem. However, breaking classes into small discussion groups and giving them a focussed problem to resolve and report back on gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and actively develop their reasoning. Generally I tended to favour giving the task teams five minutes to discuss and report back on a problem and then asking for the response in four minutes as research has shown that the best and most creative thoughts occur in the first few minutes and the last minute is taken on finessing the original thought.
In the majority of classrooms too little time is spent in peer assessment of performance as it is assumed that assessment is conducted by the teacher. This has great limitations on learning, as it prevents the student internalising the skills required to be an independent and autonomous learner. Students tend to be their harshest critics when it comes to self assessment, unable to see their strengths amongst their perceived weaknesses. To counter this trend to overly harsh self-criticism, at the RSA Academy we developed a language of self and peer assessment which included terms like EBI (Even Better If) WWW (What Went Well) and DDT (Don’t Do This!) the latter enabled students to reflect on those disasters that occasionally punctuate learning experiences in a positive way. It also allowed students to be more risk conscious in their attitudes rather than being risk averse.
This infographic gives some useful pointers..