7. Ask probing questions.

Although there is much debate on this topic, it is generally recognized that teachers should make their presence known.1  Without taking control of the conversation, it is important to maintain the development of higher order thinking skills by modeling what you expect from your students and intervening when needed. As a moderator, you can post questions to help your students advance their thinking, individually and as a group. 


Learning Purpose Socratic Questions

Clarifying Explanations

What do you mean by….? Provide an additional example of…. How does this compare and/or contrast to….? What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of…?
Questioning Assumptions What other explanations might account for this? What are the assumptions behind this statement? 
Exploring Additional Evidence How can we find out more about this topic?  How does this connect to the concepts we’ve discussed previously?  What additional evidence can you find to support or refute this idea? 
Multiple Perspectives What would someone who disagrees say? What are the cultural implications? 
Real World Implications What are potential consequences or implications of this? Provide a real world example of….
Self-Reflective Processes Why should this issue matter?  What is the importance of learning about this issue?   What other questions do you now want to explore? 2

Comments: How are you involved in online discussions? What are strategies would you suggest?

Show 2 footnotes

  1. George Collison, Bonnie Elbaum, Sarah Haavind and Robert Tinker, Facilitating Online Learning: Effective Strategies for Moderators (Madison WI: Atwood Publishing, 2000).
  2.  Harrington and Aloni, “Promoting Critical Thinking.” 5.