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Question-based learning

This is an example of a learning activity conducted at KTH. In the course, question-based learning (QBL) has been implemented to prepare the students for the teaching sessions. By providing constructive feedback on questions, the students are guided towards accurate information, establishing a strong foundation for effective teaching opportunities.

A dynamic and engaging learning method

Pure question-based learning

An evolution of QBL is pure question-based learning, where only questions and feedback are used as teaching methods.

Instead of being a part of the course, it forms the core of the entire course, focusing on interactive questions where the teacher acts as a guide, providing continuous feedback to support and guide the students.

In the course, question-based learning (QBL) was utilised, incorporating constructive questions with feedback as part of the instruction.

The students answered questions in advance, and the feedback they received guided them to understand their knowledge rather than just providing correct answers.

This ensured that the students had already confirmed their understanding of the fundamental knowledge before the teaching session. Consequently, during the teaching session, the teacher could focus on more advanced applications of the course material without the need to review basic knowledge, such as definitions and concepts.

This approach fosters increased student engagement by allowing them to ask questions beyond the expected scope. The diverse learning method has made the teaching sessions more student-centred, dynamic, interactive, and at a higher level. Additionally, students assume a more autonomous role in their learning process.

How do you get started with QBL?

For teachers who are new to question-based learning, it can feel overwhelming to implement the method in their teaching. To make it easier to get started, you can get inspiration from the tips below.

Initial questions

A good start is to ask simple questions to strengthen students' self-confidence. Then challenge them with more advanced questions. An ideal question is one that no one is expected to answer correctly on the first attempt since learning is enhanced by searching for the correct answer. Remember that effective questions don't need to be perfect from the beginning—the feedback provided is the most valuable learning tool.

Read more on KTH's intranet about Formulate questions and answer options .

Involve students

As a teacher, it can be challenging to determine the best approach for giving feedback. However, students can often offer guidance on the type of feedback they find most beneficial. You can enlist the help of former students in the course and ask them to contribute questions they believe are valuable to include.

Apply QBL gradually

A good starting point is to test the method on a specific module at the beginning of the course and then evaluate its effectiveness. The teacher can select sections in the course, where, for example, basic understanding of definitions and concepts can be given via the method. This way, students receive confirmation of their comprehension even before the teaching session begins, which boosts their self-confidence and motivates them to learn more.

Want to know more about question-based learning?

Olle Bälter , associate professor at KTH, has gathered information and answers to questions for teachers who are interested in learning more about QBL. The information is found on the Torus platform.

Read more about QBL on the Torus platform . The Torus overview page is in Swedish, but the course given for QBL  is in English.

The information available on the linked page refers to text content from May 2023.

Implementation of FBL in teaching

In this newly started course, which builds upon methods and concepts from a previous course, lectures were conducted on-site, and preparatory material was assigned to the students in Canvas. Questions were also assigned to be answered before the lecture, designed as quizzes. The objective was to allow students to review and reinforce their basic knowledge from previous modules. The structure for the beginning of the course was designed as follows:

  1. The method was presented.
  2. The quiz questions were assigned before the lectures.
  3. The questions were answered.
  4. Immediate feedback.
  5. Difficulties were highlighted.

1. The method was presented

The structure for the first teaching sessions was introduced on the course web’s announcements page. A question bank was created to which the students were encouraged to add questions. The teacher also added questions and sorted relevant and interesting ones to be used in future quizzes.

2. The quiz questions were assigned before the lectures

Before each lecture, quiz questions were assigned to be answered in advance, aimed at reviewing and reinforcing previous knowledge. The quiz questions were designed in a way that required reflection, stimulating the students' learning.

3. The questions were answered

The questions were dynamic in the sense that they were adapted based on previous misconceptions and difficulties that the teacher identified from the earlier collected questions in the question bank. The quiz could be taken multiple times without affecting the students' grades.

4. Immediate feedback

Immediate feedback was provided for the questions and their various answer options. Whether the answer was correct or not, the students were guided to understand the correct answer through the information provided in the feedback.

5. Difficulties were highlighted

During the lectures, the teacher placed special emphasis on explaining and discussing the areas where students had difficulties, as revealed by the answers to the questions. This allowed the students to deepen their understanding and receive additional support in the areas that required more attention.

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Last changed: Dec 29, 2023