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
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
Therese Huston, Ph.D. is the founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Seattle University.
She is the author of Teaching What You Don't Know and other published works focusing on faculty mentoring. Therese earned her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and her B.A. in psychology from Carleton College. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Professional and Organizational Development network in higher education.
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