Teaching Tip 3: Checking Understanding
- Ask your students "Is that clear?".
- If its clear, fine. If anyone says "No, can you
explain that?/Can you explain again?", dont. Ask if one of the other
students can explain it.
- If nobody understands it, go through an example step by step
together. They should get it then.
- If they still dont get it, go through another example
- If the poor things are still lost either...
- do the whole activity together as a class, if possible,
- give up and go to the next activity.
- If its a word they are having difficulty
understanding, you could set it for homework and get the students to explain
the meaning to you next lesson.
- Another way to check understanding of instructions is to ask
the students to imagine that you are a new student who has just come in - can
they explain how to do the activity?
- Another way to check understanding, not only of
instructions, is by concept checking (see TT19).
- You need to check that the students have understood because
they are unlikely to tell you if they havent - they will simply bumble
through the exercise, doing it wrong, probably aware that they are doing
it wrong, and losing confidence.
- You need to ask "Is that clear?" rather than "Do you
understand?" because the chances of a student saying "No, I dont
understand" are very slim - they will feel very stupid. Would you admit to not
understanding something in front of others in a classroom situation? I
- The student who doesnt understand will be convinced
s/he is the only one who doesnt get it and will not want to admit that in
public. Questions like "Is that clear?" shift the blame to the quality of the
instructions instead. Neutral ground - much nicer.
© Liz Regan 2003