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Concept Checking Questions (CCQs)

“Right?” “Does that make sense?” “Cool?” “OK?” 
These are all variations of the question "do you understand?" and these types of questions are ineffective at checking your student's understanding. Instead, it is better to ask concept check questions (CCQs).

What is a CCQ? What can it check for?

A concept checking question is designed to highlight the core the meaning of the lesson's target, whether that's a concept, language, communicative functions, or really, for anytime you want to ask, “Do you understand?” The objective of concept checking is through critical thinking learners will enhance their learning of a target by adding to what they already know.

By using CCQs:
  • You can draw out what your learners know
  • Learners get to participate in the learning process of discovering and understanding the new target
  • Learners articulate their knowledge
  • You can clarify and add to their knowledge 
Golden rules for using CCQs:
  • Plan CCQs in advance
  • Ask questions that are simple
  • Direct CCQs to specific students, and to the whole class; cover as many students as possible
  • Ask both yes/no questions, either/or questions, and simple ‘Wh’ questions
  • Do not add unfamiliar vocabulary or concepts to CCQs
  • Do not use the target you are teaching in the CCQs
  • Use pictures, realia, miming, synonyms, antonyms, the white board, and time and tense in CCQs

Asking learners to point to someone wearing glasses to check whether they understand the item 'glasses' checks their understanding of the concept.
For all you ESL or language teachers out there, the article Using Concept Checking in Teaching provides the following samples CCQs for checking lexis.

  • What is another example of a ____?
  • What does a ____ do?
  • Where do we find a ____?
  • Why do we need a ____?
  • What does a ____ smell/ feel/ look/ taste/ sound like?
  • Do you have a ____? Tell me more about it.
  • Show me how to ____.
  • What is the opposite of ____?
  • Who ____s?
  • Why do people ____?
  • Do you ____? When? Why? How?
  • Who is usually ____?
  • What is usually ____?
  • Do you ever feel ____?
  • What is the opposite of ____?
  • Show me ____.
Expressions, Idioms, and notational phrases
  • Who says this?
  • When is it said?
  • Where would you say this?
  • To whom would you say it?
  • To whom would you probably not say it?
  • When should it not be said?
  • How does this sound to you? Polite? Informal? Rude?
For all you trainers and content-based instructors out there, here is a resource from the Training and Development World containing advice, examples, and strategies for questioning - one of the most essential elements of the effective facilitation of learning.

Some of the techniques explored in this resource are:
  • Open-ended questions
  • Audience Response Systems
  • Types of questions
  • The Socratic Method
  • Didactic Questioning
Here is a MindTools video that will help not only ask better questions when facilitating learning, but at work and in life.


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