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Conducting Case Studies - std10580026
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Guide to Good Practices For Developing and Conducting Case Studies
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Questioning Techniques - Continued


DOE-STD-1058-93
Trainees should be encouraged to listen to other points of view. They should support
creative approaches to solving problems. The trainees should ask the instructor, as well as
each other, questions that probe for understanding of the situation.
5.3 Questioning Techniques
The instructor who asks questions during the course of instruction is using the adult
learning concept of experience and self-direction. Questioning is an important element in the
adult learning environment. The way an instructor phrases a question will affect the trainee
response.
Good questioning techniques are especially important when using case studies. The
question an instructor asks the trainees at the beginning of the case study usually sets the tone
for the discussion that follows. The questions--What do you think? What should happen
next?--are designed to create interest in the case and to get the trainee involved. From that
time on, the instructor should act as a facilitator, monitoring and directing the group
discussion. This ensures that the trainees remain focused. If the discussion starts to stray
from the case being studied, the instructor should ask one or two questions to get the trainees
back on track. This is not to say that the instructor forces the direction of the case study.
Case study discussions should be somewhat freewheeling so as to allow the trainees to search
for the conclusions.
At the end of the case study, the instructor should ask questions that probe the
understanding of the underlying principle that is illustrated by the case study. Usually, this
is started by inviting the trainees to state their own conclusions, and based on the response
they give, the instructor should ask questions that probe their depth of understanding. For
example, the instructor may say, "That's a good response. How would you explain your
answer to someone who feels otherwise?" An instructor needs to be sensitive at this point.
As stated previously, often there is no one right answer, and the trainees may discover
another unique and valid answer to the case study.
Regardless of the answer, an instructor should provide positive feedback. If a trainee
has missed the point of the case study, don't criticize. Motivate by reinforcing the portions
of the response that is correct (e.g., The first part of your answer is a partial solution of the
problem. Can you take that idea one step farther?). If the trainee still cannot answer, use
the part of the response that was correct and redirect the question to the rest of the group
(e.g., She brought up an interesting point. Can someone add something to this?). Positive
feedback to responses will send the signal to the trainees that it is safe to present their
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