Q & A From Factually Objective to Beneficially Constructive

Q & A From Factually Objective to Beneficially Constructive

Parts & Pieces H-02.14 a = Upgraded English Through Citizenship / a Journey Through America: The Game with Opportunity to Grow Well Beyond Knowledge Acquisition 
Previous blog post H-02.13 is entitled Teach, Learn, & Enjoy Any Subject  Through Question & Answering: Parts & Pieces H-02.13 = English Through Citizenship / a Journey Through America: The Game. Click on its title to revisit both Reasons to Use Question & Answering in teaching /  learning and the Main Kinds of (Syntactical / Grammatical) Questions & Answers. Below are abridged recaps of those assertions and claims:
Why Use Question & Answering Instead of Just-Talk?
Here are established reasons why Questioning & (Short) Answering procedures—especially for facts or other objective info—have proven more effective in knowledge acquisition than lecture or opinion:   
  • Question-Answering Has Physicality. Posing Questions engages Questioners and grabs the attention of potential Responders because their  intonation, word order or syntax, and/or pausing create expectation that listeners / readers will do something in reaction. 
  • Just Understanding” Is Not Enough for Learning. Perhaps most people need to ask themselves questions in order to truly acquire knowledge, build skills, and remember.  And the more contextually relevant their Questioning is, the better it works. 
  • The “Drama” of the Media Evokes Emotion. Hearing Questioning & Answering in the Media (Quiz Shows, Interviews, Investigations) tends to aid memory because that knowledge” is acquired under (exciting) circumstances (like heated competition) that evoke strong feelings. 
  • Words with Others Activate Minds & Feelings. Physically & virtually, conversations (with friends, acquaintances, strangers) are apt to be more effectively memorable when speakers swap data or ideas in Question & Answer / Comment & Response mode rather than expound their views via monologue. That’s because interchange tends to stimulate rather than let recipients withdraw into their own opinions. 
  • Engaging the Youthful & Old(sters) Requires Interchange. To draw (very young or old) people in, instructors, counselors, helpers, and others often employ Questions with or without Answers. These increase chances of attracting / maintaining attention, curiosity, and sense of participation by bolstering progress in constructive and/or enjoyable, lively ways.
  • "Best Practices” in Classroom Instruction Offer Advantages. Educators consider the Question & Answering Methodology of Classroom Instruction superior to other  approaches in that it [1] encourages students to engage with their work and each other; [2] facilitates learning through active discussion; [3] inspires confidence in participants’ own ideas plus respect for others’ contributions; [4] improves linguistic skills, building critical thinking abilities or ingenuity; [5] helps learners to clarify their own understanding; [6] enables teachers to check if recipients are getting it and to make adjustments; and [7] motivates everyone involved to stay curious, pursue or refine answers, and formulate their own questions & answers.   
What Are the Main Kinds of (Structural / Syntactical) Questions & Answers?
So now that we accept or remember  that Questioning / Answering modes are advantageous in education, daily life, and (pleasantly) competitive  pursuits, here’s a synopsis of their three (3) main Grammatical Formats—with ideas on how to enhance their potential educational value: 
  • Yes / No Interrogatives or True / False Assertions. Characterized by rising intonation, inquiries that elicit responses meaning either “yes” or “no” can be complete sentences, Tag-Questions, phrasing, or even single words.  Known also as Polar Interrogatives, what’s most significant about these queries is speakers’ tones of voice, facial expressions or other body language; writers’ punctuation (?); and/or questioners’ expectation.   
On tests or in other Questioning Material, Yes / No Questions can be restated as True / False ( T / F ) Items or other Statements to be judged as “Right” or “Wrong.”  To make them more didactic, test-takers can be prompted to “Correct Flawed Items to Make those Sentences True.” And these “sentence puzzles” become even harder to “solve” when some of its particulars are accurate while one or more are fallacious.
  • Alternative Questions or Multiple-Choice Items with Options to Consider  or Eliminate. Alternative Questions are likely to have rising intonation after each choice and falling pitch at the last option after or.  Listeners or readers are expected to respond with one or more of the choices.
But more common than Alternative Questions on Exams or Quizzes are Multiple-Choice Items—in which Wh-Questions, Directives with Verbs like name or give, or sentences with blanks precede lists of two or more (numbered / lettered) possibilities to choose from.  Usually, only one choice is the Correct Answer while the other(s) is / are (wrong) Detractors.  Even so, for pedagogic efficiency, a Multiple-Choice section can be structured so that any number of alternatives are acceptable—in which case, test-users are required to assess the appropriateness of each possibility separately.
And to expand their pedagogic effectiveness, Multiple-Choice Items can be devised to include (extra) Vocabulary and/or Facts or Ideas of interest to teachers, helpers, & learners in (other) Instruction in their Subject Matter.   
  • Wh-Questions or Interrogatives Designed to Elicit InformationWh-Questions usually end in falling intonation.  They begin with or include Question-Words or Phrases like / with What? Which? Who(se)? Where? When? How? Why?  Designed to elicit Short Answers and/or comprehensive Information, they can also be formulated as Directives with Verbs such as “Name ...,” “Give ...,” “Tell ...,” “Describe ...,” “Illustrate ...,” “Explain ...,” “Compare ...,” and the like.  Thus, Wh-Questions can range from simple to answer to extremely complex or challenging, leaving time & space for respondents’ to exhibit a range of ignorance, knowledge, and/or (close– or open-minded, interpretive, [un]creative, helpful or harmful) skills or abilities.
But How Can Question Types Be of Pedagogical Benefit in Lessons, Worksheets, Activities, Quizzes, or Games?
The first Authors & Editors / worklifeenglish.com Game of Knowledge that existed in tangible (rather than conceptual) form was / is H-02.13 English Through Citizenship /  Journey Through America: the Game.
In six (6) Categories of Meaning, the Game displays its Questions on Query Cards, with correct Answers printed on their backs (reverse sides). Game Players guess at, collect, reinforce, revise, and/or anchor into memory essential and/or relevant Subject Matter—in this case, information on Symbols, Holidays, People; Geography; the U.S. Constitution; History, & (Federal Vs. State Vs. Local) Government derived from courses or texts that “teach” Americana or what is known as Sheltered Social Studies.    
Although other Games of Knowledge now exist in both printed (black & white) and online / onscreen (brightly colorized) form, the original English Through Citizenship / Journey Through America Game has not (yet) been computerized.  It (still) consists of a boxed set with a colorful 17” x 11” fold-out Game Board, a simple alternative page to compete on, six (6) decks of 48 collated color-coded / numbered Question & Answer Cards each (printed back-to-back in black), game pieces, & Instructions. 
  • There are three (3) Questions on each Card Face. One is to respond to with Yes or No;  the next offers three (3) lettered possibilities to choose from; the third is approximately the same Wh-Question that appears in the second.  For consistency, there’s uniformity in query formats. 
  • To avoid “giving away” answers when participants read (aloud) Cards, the three Question Forms for each “Learning Point” appear on three separate Cards.  For example, the first has a polar format on Card 1 and a Multiple-Choice design on Card 3; it’s formulated as a Wh-Question on Card 2.  The second is Multiple-Choice on Card 1, Yes / No on Card 2, and Wh– on Card 3.  The third is numbered 3 on Card 1, 2 on Card 2, and 1 on Card 3.  
  • Answers appear in order on the reverse sides of each Card. 
Under photos of what the original E.T.C. / Journey Game components look(ed) like, here are Templates showing how (the fronts & backs of) its 
288 Question Cards might be “translated” into colorful, online pages reconstituted into downloadable Game Materials. 
So Will the original E.T.C. / Journey Game Components Be Reproduced Virtually “As Is”—Or Should Their Question-Answering Design Be Thoroughly Transformed?   
Designed to “teach” objective information (facts & data only) from accompanying texts or other material, the 288 tri-leveled E.T.C. / Journey Game Question Cards could be endlessly edited, adapted, modified, and/or expanded to deliver Maximum Pedagogical Value—i.e. so that each item carries (much) more than a discreet single point of information.  For instance, the three simplistic versions of an early Question classified as U.S. Geography were / are:
[1]  Is San Francisco the largest city in California?   
[2]  What is the largest city in California?
a. San Francisco 
b. Los Angeles
c. San Diego. 
[3] What is the largest city in California? 
However, with the addition of Directives, pertinent Vocabulary, relevant Detail, and/or other “knowledge” (some verified, some incorrect, and some intended as detractors), Question-Users could get “a lot more mileage” out of this one triad, as in these (exaggerated) examples:  
[1] True or False? Both in area and population, San Francisco is the largest city in the state of Canada.  (Answer: False)  Now Correct  Errors in the False Item: (Possible Answers) Either in area or population, San Francisco is not the largest city in the state of California.  Or:  Both in area and population, Los Angeles is the largest city in the state of California                                                              
[2] Multiple-Choice: What is the largest city in California?  a. San Francisco by land area but California City by population.   b. Los Angeles in both size and number of people.  c. Their statistics change every year, so they can never be ranked.  ( Answer: b. [But even so, the extra words or implications in the verbiage could lead to energetic discussion—and perhaps some research.] )                                                          
[3] Directive: Tell what you know about the three largest cities in California.  (Possible Answer) In land area, the three largest Californian cities in order are Los Angeles, San Diego, and California 
 City.  In population, L.A. is also first and S.D. is second, but San Jose is third, before San Francisco.   ( Responders are then likely to add facts, data, or even opinions about location, geography, or other features of these cities—including what they’re known for and what visitors experience there.  And they’re inclined to derive their info & thoughts purposefully from any or all accessible sources. )                    
So clearly then, if the 288 E.T.C. / Journey Game Question Cards were (creatively & elaborately) enhanced, they would become (much) more useful as pedagogic tools in Content Instruction, salient-point Review, knowledge Assessment, linguistic Skills-Development, cogent Thinking, and productive Understanding or Grasp of targeted Subject Matter, Concepts, and related areas of Inquiry.  
On the other hand, Question-Cards of versatile complexity / depth might need to be simplified or streamlined for use in the rapid interchange of fast-moving competition.  So after considerable thought plus limited discussion, what has come up as criteria for online revision is: 
  • Preserve the Essential Content & Format of the Original 288 Question-Cards.  One of the prime objectives of a revised, online E.T.C. / Journey Game is to retain the integrity of its 288 (x3) items as objective, discreet Learning-Point Questions & Answers.  Its main purpose is to publish its content accessibly so that it survives even after the printed supply of materials is depleted.
  • Even so, the presentation of the Q & A Cards will be enhanced.  In six (6) Files of Material, perhaps numbered H-02.14 c-h, their wording will be modified so that they sound good in Oral-Quiz or Game Play and look good against a background of colorfully inviting imaging.  A photo of the full-color 17” x 27” fold-out Game Board One can be an oversized Download.  
  • Record & Store the Three Kinds of Questions—Yes / No, Multiple-Choice,  Wh—in Separate Lists.  Then Create Optimized “Updates.” Through originally conceived as a triad of related Questions for each distinct Learning Point, each of the three (3) versions of each Query will be extracted separately for use in Lessons, Activities, or Games.  The original Polar Questions, for instance, could be listed in the left column of a number of Worksheets, complemented on the right by  (often ridiculously) False Statements to fix so that they become accurate. 
Former Alternative Queries (already in Wh– Form with Multiple-Choice Answers) will appear on the left of separate sets of pages, converted on the right to Fill-Ins to complete with one or more Choices.  The new wording suggestions will be formulated to elicit multi-faceted thinking, be amusing at times, and/or evoke curiosity about their (unapplicable) Vocabulary.  
So Now That  Time Has Passed, How Have the Q & A Cards of E.T.C. / Journey: the Game Turned Out?
Following our own ruminations & directives, what we came up with was an 84-page book entitled H-02.14 a All You Need to (Self-) Teach & Learn About Americana Symbols, Holidays, & People: An English Through Citizenship Journey Through America (oon Topic 1 of 6 of Americana / Cultural Literacy).  Here’s what’s in it: 
  • Cover, Inside Covers, T of C. Article = “How Does the Art & Practice of Questioning & Answering Support of Achieve Educational, Work, & Everyday Success?” (pages 4-8)
  • Working Pages for Developing 48 Polar-Questions (Yes/No, True/False, Right/Wrong) on Levels A & B + Answers with Extras on Levels A & B (pages 9-10, 11-18, 12-24
  • Working Pages for Developing 48 Alternative / Multiple-Choice Question Sentence- Completion Items + Answers with Extras on Levels A & B (pages 25-26, 27-34, 35-40)
  • Working Pages for Developing 48 Closed vs. Open-Ended Wh-Question / Short Essay Answer & Directives Items + Answers with Extras on Levels A & B (pages 41-42, 43-50, 51-56)
  • 48 Trio / Triad Cards with Three (3) Questions & Answers Each on Eight (8) Two-Sided Pages (pages 57-58, 59-74)
  • Game-Board One: 18 Circle to Cover; Game-Board Two: Score Card; Game-Board Three: Path (pages 74-83). Back-Cover (page 84)  


Especially if you’re a Materials-Developer in Depth yourself—or if you actually enjoy elaborate analysis & formulation of Q & As and other sentence designs—you might want to take a look at this working document H-02.14a.  It goes well beyond what we’ve ever done with Question & Answering before, revealing the intricacies of what happens to the verbal brain when it moves from one thought or subject to another—and another—and another.   
Here—yet again, are product images:   


For monthly email newsletters with free tips, tools, and resources for English language teachers and learners, sign up here!

About Work/Life English
For over 35 years, Work/Life English has been dedicated to improving the lives of English language learners. We offer a comprehensive range of fun, effective English language improvement lessons and activities to help adult education ESL educators successfully engage their English language students and improve their English competencies, leading to a host of positive effects in students’ professional and personal lives. Better English, Better Life. For more information, visit www.worklifeenglish.com.
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.