Software

Pulling in the reins on overzealous students

The only dumb question is the one that isn't asked. But how do you react when one of your students just won't STOP asking questions?


I love it when one of my students asks a good question. It shows that the student is paying attention and has a strong interest in the subject matter. But I hate it when I can’t get that “good student” to shut up. I’d like to know how you handle this situation.
In “Ve haf vays of making you talk!,” Bruce Maples discussed how to deal with the other extreme—students who have to be coaxed into asking questions.
Can I ask just one more quick question?
Here’s what happened to me while I was teaching an introductory computer skills class. My students—all adult learners—were awake and responsive, and things were going well.

Then, one of the women in the class interrupted me with this question: “Um, Jeff, will you be covering how to attach something to an e-mail message today?” I said, “Well, sure, we can do that.” Here’s where I made my first mistake. I asked, “Is that something the rest of you would be interested in, too?”

Everyone nodded or said, “Oh, yeah.” Then I made my second mistake by taking a minute to briefly discuss e-mail attachments and deviating from my planned lecture.

The woman who asked about attachments then said, “Oh, and could I ask just one more quick question?” I said, “Okay.” This process went on for a full 10 minutes! I’d gotten completely sidetracked and had forgotten where I was in my lecture.

Although the student was asking extremely good questions—and the answers benefited everyone in the room—the fact remained that I appeared unorganized and had lost control of the classroom.

�Looking back, I realize what I should have done. I should have directed the person asking the questions to wait until the “official” question-and-answer period.
Do you have a great tip for dealing with the student who just won’t quit asking good questions? We want to hear from you. Please post your comments below or send us a note.

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