Quick Tip: Language Matters

Four question marks

When it comes to teaching executive function (EF) strategies, research has demonstrated that explicit, systematic, structured, and scaffolded approaches yield the greatest results. While direct instruction is important for EF, how can we encourage students to continue discovering beyond what we teach them? It turns out that subtle language differences matter for students’ learning and exploration. A recent study(link opens in new tab/window) ↗ shows that formulating information as a question rather than just directly imparting it can accomplish the goals of both direct instruction and discovery learning.

“Pedagogical questioning both effectively transmits knowledge and fosters exploration and further learning.”

What does this mean for your classroom?

Questioning can be used to increase student engagement and promote higher order thinking. Teachers can also use effective questions in their day-to-day teaching to help students understand how they think and learn (a process known as “metacognitive awareness”). For example, you can use a thinking routine, which is a set of questions or a brief sequence of steps used to scaffold and support student thinking. You could also ask open-ended reflection questions that require more than a yes or a no response.

Check out these past posts for quick tips and questions:

For a full resource on using questions in the classroom, review Using Effective Questions (link opens in new tab/window)from Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Innovation.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org