Great questions tease out who understands from who doesn’t, but these questions are the most likely to leave your students unsure of themselves. So how do you get students to take the risk and reveal their honest understanding? Here’s a trick I picked up from this great video on using clicker questions in class. Instead of asking your students’ to tell you what THEY think is the right answer, ask them to explain why SOMEONE would pick one of the answers.

“Can someone tell me why someone would think A is the right answer? Now, you’re not saying you think A is the right answer. You’re explaining why someone would think it is.”

This approach allows students who don’t understand to expose it in a risk free manner and all of your students can dissect the misconceptions and faulty logics that underly the “wrong answer”. While this approach is ready-made for classes that use clickers, it can also easily be adapted for any socratic method discussion.