The Key to Effective Concept Checking Questions

Concept checking questions are a type of assessment that helps teachers assess how well their students understood the concepts recently discussed. They are a part of the standard teaching process because they seek to ensure students truly understand their lesson.

These questions are common across all educational levels because they are a proven method for improving the effectiveness of lessons. They aren’t a new concept; their importance has often been highlighted in many studies and articles.

After all, isn’t it the goal of education to improve people’s lives by expanding their knowledge?

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Concept checking questions are not just useful for ensuring a good understanding of the material. They are useful for ensuring students can apply their learning throughout the course of their studies and their lives. While a CCQ sounds as simple a matter as asking “do you understand?”, they require quite a bit of planning. 

Concept Checking Vs. Instruction Checking

While closely similar, both checking questions serve different functions. It’s easy to confuse one for the other.

As mentioned earlier, a CCQ evaluates a student’s understanding of a particular concept or principle. They test a student’s level of comprehension.

In contrast, instruction-checking questions evaluate a student’s understanding of how to do an activity. It tests whether a student knows the objectives and tasks involved in an activity assigned to them.

Examples of Concept-Checking Questions

  • More people will join our movement. Is this sentence in the past, present, or future tense?
  • What do you mean by “post no bills?”
  • Which among the items may not be a good representation of [topic]?
  • When does the Christmas season start?
  • Whose idea was it to include letters in Math?
  • Are there additional points or comments you would like to share?
  • Which Physics principle applies when you try to skip pebbles on a pond?

Why Are They Important?

CCQs are an essential part of the learning process because they assess whether students are ready for the next lesson. The true value of CCQs shines when you look at courses as a series of lessons that have a set of prerequisites and branches.

Learning involves a steady progression of knowledge and a gradual change in behavior. If you fail to master a prerequisite or foundational concept, the chances of mastering all subsequent lessons and concepts decrease significantly.

You can think of learning as something similar to skill trees in video games. You need to master a base skill or trait before you can unlock its advanced iterations. Concept checking questions verify whether you have the experience and knowledge needed to tackle more complex concepts.

Tips for Developing Concept Checking Questions

CCQs require a bit of skill and know-how to formulate properly. Again, we find that the best CCQs have substance and focus on meaning, form, or function. 

Plan in Advance

It’s easy to come up with CCQs on the go, but most times, they aren’t going to be effective. It’s important that you develop your CCQs as you develop your lesson plan. This ensures that you’re able to cover all the essential aspects of your lesson. 

Ask Simple Questions

The goal of a CCQ is to assess a learner’s understanding of a certain topic. Confusing your students with complex questions will only complicate matters. These questions may even confuse students who actually have a competent understanding of the topic.

Straightforward language is important because it allows you to make sure that students truly understand the question. It’s only then that you can accurately gauge a student’s mastery of a topic.

Use Several CCQ Styles

Teachers shouldn’t limit their questions to a single style. Limiting the style of your CCQ hinders its effectiveness in eliciting valuable information. Each style has its own set of advantages and limitations. For instance, yes or no questions can give students clues on the topic but fail to allow flexibility for answers.

On the other hand, open-ended questions provide plenty of room for explanations, but they can also provide plenty of room for irrelevant answers. The best approach for concept checking is to use diverse question types and to take advantage of each’s strengths. This allows for a more thorough appraisal of a student’s mastery.

Consider Vocabulary Usage

As is the case with complex questions, complex words and jargon may only muddle your questions. Avoid adding unfamiliar words to CCQs. Using unfamiliar words creates additional learning barriers unnecessarily. Make sure that you use the same language you used for your classroom lessons, and present familiar concepts.

Again, if the student fails to understand the question, the question loses its ability to measure concept mastery. If you give your instruction in English or any other target language, you must use the same in your questions.

Use Different Forms of Media

Finally, it’s important that your questions attract the attention of respondents. This is especially important for young learners who have difficulty focusing their attention on a point. Videos, pictures, and infographics are resources teachers can use to make a difficult question seem more interesting. 

Make sure that your content matches the learning ability of your students. 

Proofread Your Questions

Proofreading is more than just a matter of checking every sentence for grammar and spelling errors. You need to make sure that your series of questions has a structure. This ensures that the questions you write effectively assess the way your class understood your lesson.

Moreover, a structured approach will also guide you in writing future questions. Don’t forget to add details to clarify your questions as needed. Again, take the time to read your work and make sure that you’ve got things right. 

In Summary

Some questions elicit answers. Others function as a means to gain valuable insight into an individual’s knowledge. CCQs make it possible for teachers to evaluate a student’s readiness for the next lessons. Not all students are willing to talk in class. Fewer still want to tell teachers that they have difficulty following lessons. 

CCQs are a way to check whether learners gained a good understanding of classroom lessons. They help teachers determine whether it’s time to teach the next set of lessons.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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