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August 11, 2023

Building a Culture of Student Engagement Through Questioning and Online Tutoring

The journey of inquiry starts with a single question. In the classroom, it's the catalyst that ignites the curiosity and exploration necessary for profound learning. But building a culture of student engagement through questioning and online tutoring where learners feel safe and encouraged to probe and ponder, isn’t always straightforward.

It's not just about teaching students to ask questions, but also about building a supportive environment that connects them with resources, such as online tutoring, to find the answers. By connecting students with knowledgeable tutors, online tutoring opens up a world of possibilities for personalized learning, support, and growth.

Educational experts Stephanie Rothstein and Dr. Robert Dillon shed light on how to break down the barriers that often stigmatized the act of asking questions.

Setting the stage for inquiry and curiosity

Every veteran teacher knows fostering an environment that encourages questioning and curiosity is crucial to effective learning. After all, a favorite opening line on the first day of school is, “There’s no such thing as a dumb question.” 

A culture centered on questioning is not only vital to the teacher-led learning process, but also essential for creating a supportive environment for tutoring. By establishing early on that questions are welcomed, teachers can set the tone and lay the groundwork necessary for students to feel comfortable seeking help and asking for what they need. 

However, some students may need additional assistance in understanding the process of questioning before they are ready to fully engage and participate in co-designing their learning experience.

Breaking down the questioning process 

In the webinar, Stephanie Rothstein discussed how to break down the stigma of asking questions. Many students may refrain from asking questions if they feel uncomfortable speaking up or lack confidence in the question they are asking. 

She advises working with students through the questioning process so students have the tools they need to understand when they need to ask questions and what questions they need to ask. 

Some strategies to try include: 

  • Start with writing: Have students practice writing down questions during the learning process before they speak these questions aloud. This can help students feel less “on the spot” when asking a question and enable them to slow down and really think about their questions. Model this process first by demonstrating questioning isn’t just for when you don’t understand something, but also when you want to deepen your understanding.
  • Model and practice: Once students have written their questions, have them practice asking them to their peers. This can be incorporated into a fun “get to know you” activity so students feel comfortable asking questions in a low-risk, non-academic environment. 
  • Increase the rigor: Introduce academic content partnered with your questioning process. Share with students the different levels of questioning, and how each level can help students expand their knowledge. Have students practice asking questions at each level. 
  • Seeking answers: Once students are comfortable writing down their questions, segue the conversation into how they can seek out answers – and lead them into understanding how online tutoring can assist them in their educational journey.

Preparing your students for online tutoring 

While some students may easily adopt online tutoring to answer their questions, other students may need additional help to start feeling comfortable using the platform everyday. 

By taking the time to gradually introduce your students to your online tutoring platform and fully implementing it into your classroom, you are further encouraging the questioning culture and providing students with the tool they need to get personalized support. 

1. Start with the "why": Explain to students how online tutoring aligns with the culture of questioning you’ve been working hard together to create. Emphasize online tutoring platforms are tools to explore curiosity and seek answers in a personalized and engaging way.

2. Utilize student advocates: If possible, find students who have experience with online tutoring and allow them to share their positive experiences. Having peers vouch for the technology can diminish apprehension and allow students to see the value from their own perspective. 

3. Create fun and interactive introductions: Introduce online tutoring through a non-academic, interactive activity like solving a mystery puzzle or participating in a scavenger hunt (similar to how you introduced the question above). Bring some humor and excitement to the introduction to help build buy-in from your students early on. 

4.Destigmatize seeking help: Discuss with students how professionals, including teachers, use online resources to continue learning. This normalization helps students understand asking for help is part of the lifelong learning process, and never something to be ashamed about. 

5. Provide clear resources for navigation: Provide students with resources they can continuously access to help them navigate their online tutoring platform. Some examples include: 

  • Classroom Roadmap: Provide a roadmap with step-by-step instructions and questioning prompts to help students navigate and stay on track during their tutoring session.
  • How to Guides: Display key details on where to go for online tutoring and how to get started.
  • Checklists: These can include different levels of questioning and tips for setting goals and preparing questions.

6. Model the process: Consider scheduling a live demonstration where you or a student engage with a tutor online. Show students how the process works and how tutors can help answer the questions you wrote down during the class. 

7. Incorporate tutoring into routine practice: Clearly outline how online tutoring fits into daily classroom activities and assignments. Having a routine will help students see online tutoring as a regular part of their learning journey. This is also a great opportunity to co-design with your students how tutoring will fit into their everyday routines. 

Bringing online tutoring to your classroom 

In a world where the thirst for knowledge never ceases, fostering a culture of inquiry and curiosity is essential. Online, 1:1 tutoring, such as Pear Deck Tutor, can seamlessly fit into this educational framework, offering students personalized guidance and support that complements their classroom learning.

Are you ready to take the next step in enhancing student engagement and curiosity in your classroom? Bring the power of Pear Deck Tutor's online tutoring to your students, and watch as they flourish in an environment that celebrates questions, exploration, and continuous growth.

Learn more about Pear Deck Tutor and start your journey towards a more engaged and inquisitive classroom.


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Mollie Breese
Content Marketing Manager

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