Blog Tutors Tutoring Tips How to Increase Lesson Participation by Asking Better Questions

How to Increase Lesson Participation by Asking Better Questions

Every student performs differently during tuition lessons, especially when you ask them difficult questions. Some will be able to respond easily and immediately, while others do not. A few will remain meek and stay silent unless they are probed further by you.

As a tutor, it is important that you can get your students to participate in your discussions. It is a way for you to see how well they are taking their classes in and what you need to do to help them improve their grades further.

It is also a good way to find out if they are able to think questions through and answer accordingly.

If you want to help out your students out, here are ways on how you can increase lesson participation by asking better questions:

Use questions that encourage thinking and reasoning

Before you hold your lessons, plan your lessons accordingly and sort out questions that will help your students think. Your questions must be flexible and let your students have enough time to answer. Creative questioning will encourage your students to delve deeper into a topic. 

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Here are examples of questions you can use to get your students to think:

Starting the inquiry

1) What do you know about this topic that would help with this situation?

2) Can you think about the possible scenarios we can expect at the end of this chapter?

3) How can we make the problem easier to solve?

Continuing the inquiry

1) Was there a similar event in history when this happened?

2) Is our hypothesis accurate?

3) What are the similarities and differences involved in the question?

4) Can you think of other ways to answer this question?

Interpreting the results of the inquiry

1) How can you prove your hypothesis?

2) Do you think you managed to crack the mystery behind this event? Why?

3) Which method is suited for this problem? Why?

4) What are the possible reasons why the event escalated to this event?

Conclusion and reflection

1) What methods did you use to reach your conclusion?

2) Which method would have allowed you to reach to the conclusion faster?

3) Would other methods you used before work for this problem?

4) What strategies did you learn from this that you can use next time?

Give students time to think

When you ask your question to your student, you must ensure that you give the right amount of time for them to respond. It could be a second or five seconds.

The longer “wait time” is given to the student, the more they are able to respond with confidence, insight and offer a different perspective from what others have already answered.

If the “wait time” goes beyond five seconds, it could get a little awkward between you and your student.

To remedy this problem, you can discuss with them how your question and answer sessions will be done. Let them know how much time you are willing to wait before they press the student for an answer.

This will help students think accordingly and even think of ways on how they can answer with the time given.

You can also use study aids like whiteboards to help students develop ways to think faster when you pose them a question.

In this case, you can ask them a question and give them 30 seconds to think about the problem and how they can answer it. Ask the students to present their analysis after 30 seconds and get the discussion going.

Avoid judging students’ responses

Some students find it hard to answer or participate in tuition lessons because they fear criticism for their answers. Some tutors often make these mistakes, especially if the answer is not very good or if they constantly critique what response was given.

For students, they may think that the comments given to them by their tutor are enough even if they want to follow up their answer.

With this said, try to make it a point to ask open questions. This allows students to know that you are open to listening to their opinions and analysis. You can thank them after their response and discuss their answer afterwards.

Follow up students’ responses in ways that encourage deeper thinking

Finally, you should make it a point to ask questions that will inspire your students to think deeper even if you are just asking basic questions. Down below are some example questions you can ask for certain situations:

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1) When asking them to repeat their answer: “Can you repeat what you said again?”

2) When you want them to elaborate: “Can you add more about this certain point you raised?”

3) When you want to ask them to provide their reasoning: “Can you explain why your method would work better?

4) When asking them to give you an alternative answer: “Is there another way you can solve this problem?”

5) When asking them to show their interest non-verbally: “Rotate your hand or nod if you want me to expound more on the topic”

6) When you want to encourage them to speculate on something: “What would occur if…?”

7) When you want them to make challenging arguments: “This group said … do you think they are right?”

8) When you want them to ask more questions: “What would you like to ask … if you were able to do so?”

9) When you want them to elaborate loudly: “Can you let us know how you got to that conclusion?”

10) When you want them to make connections: “Was there any other event that occurred in the past like this topic we are discussing?”

Final Thoughts

Being able to help students think doesn’t just revolve around teaching them facts. You must be able to help them think and raise questions, allowing them to analyze what you are trying to teach them.

With the right questions, you can get their interest to think of other answers which may not have passed their minds when they first heard the question.

So, before your lesson, plan your questions accordingly and let your students know how these questions should be answered during your session. They may find it hard to answer the way you want them to at first, but with a little nudge through your questions, they will be able to get the drift and think more effectively during your lessons.

To become a better tutor, here are some tips:

10 Podcasts that will Help You Improve as a Tutor
8 Amazing Books to Help You Get Started as a Tutor


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.