20 Minute Programs
What if a Student Asks a Question I Can't Answer?

What if a Student Asks a Question I Can't Answer?

Learn how to respond to even the toughest questions that students pose with confidence and credibility. We help you develop a reliable strategy for fielding students’ questions without losing your cool or undermining your credibility.

Answering Difficult Student Questions

Students view professors as experts and authority figures.

Because of this, when a student asks a difficult question in class and you don’t know the answer, it’s easy to feel flustered, embarrassed and anxious.

  • Should you stumble through your response?
  • Ramble off on a tangent?
  • Make something up on the spot?

There’s no need for any of that.

Develop a reliable teaching technique strategy for fielding students’ questions without losing your cool or undermining your credibility.

In this Magna 20-Minute Mentor, led by Therese Huston, Ph.D., outlines an effective method for managing these difficult moments.

You will learn how to:

  • Employ an effective three-step method for handling difficult questions
  • Identify responses that work well for you…and others that miss the mark
  • Modify strategies for the “research it yourself” approach
  • Use clarification and acknowledgement in dealing with tough questions
    • Increase your confidence and credibility in the classroom
    • Make class preparation more manageable
    • Recognize the pros and cons of your current response repertoire

Supplemental materials include:

  • Examples of different classroom situations in various academic disciplines to illustrate a range of teaching applications
  • A suggested framework of Response Do’s and Don’ts
  • Questions for Further Discussion
  • A list of Recommended Resources

Learning Outcomes

This teaching strategies seminar will help you:

  • Consider the negative implications of certain strategies
  • Overcome reluctance to ask students if they have questions
  • Cite research on the importance of encouraging students to ask questions
  • Say “I don’t know” in a variety of appropriate ways
  • Identify better response alternatives

Product Code: PM10AA

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