Module 12 - Ask the Right Questions

Teachers’ Seminar

Module 12: Ask the Right Questions

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this module the teacher should be equipped to formulate questions for spiritual experiential learning, specifically in these areas:

  • Questions relating to biblical spiritual experience.
  • Questions dealing with each level of each domain of spiritual learning.

One of the best ways to encourage discussion and to activate the mind of the class member is to ask skillfully worded questions.

Ask open-ended questions that relate to life experiences, e.g., “Is it easy or hard to be a spokesperson for God to evangelize the lost?” This will spark discussion that needs to be qualified. Some will say it is easy because God works the miracles of changing hearts. Others will say it is hard because people do not want to listen.

Relate the discussion to the lesson text. If class members do not refer to the Bible in their discussion, ask if there is anything in the texts in the lesson that would help to answer the question. The discussion could then focus on how Jonah made it hard for himself by running away, and how easy it was for God to call the people to repentance. The class may conclude that the difficult part is to exercise faith despite human limitations.

“Milk Questions” Qualify

Life-related, experience-oriented questions are designed to spark the beginning of discussion. It is often possible to ask further related questions in order to gain qualification. For example, the teacher asks the question: “Have you ever had the kind of experience that Jonah had with the gourd?”

Someone might respond: “My car broke down in the desert.” This response focusing only on the heat could reveal a shallow understanding of Jonah’s experience. The leader may qualify the experience by asking: “Have any of you had a similar spiritual experience?”

Someone might respond: “I think I sometimes have been more focused on my success in evangelism than on the needs of the lost.” The discussion leader might ask: “What was the root of Jonah’s spiritual problem?” The focus of the discussion may finally arrive at an understanding of how our desire for significance is often central to anger.

Members’ Questions

Once members understand the nature of experiential learning, it is helpful to vary the teaching methods by allowing members to write questions to share with the class for the sake of discussion.

Spiritual experiential learning involves questions that deal with all three domains (cognitive, faith, and action) plus each level of each domain. For example:

Cognitive: Information — “Who can repeat the memory verse?” “Describe the steps that Jonah took in his run from God.”

Faith: Interest — “If I neglect God’s invitation to spend significant devotional time, it doesn’t take long until I find myself in the bowels of frustration. Can anyone identify with Jonah when he found the seaweed wrapped around his head?”

Faith: Belief — “What do you think Jonah’s devotional life was like on the way to Tarshish?” “What spiritual thoughts do you think you might have had in the belly of a fish?” “Describe the nature of faith expressed by Jonah while in the belly of the fish.” “Do you think he was sure he would be delivered?” “If so, do you think he was sure of physical or spiritual deliverance or both?”

Faith: Love — “What do you think Jonah felt like when he found himself on dry land, breathing fresh air?” “What is it like to be delivered from some predicament that we get ourselves into through disobedience?” “What loving characteristics of God do you see in the story of Jonah?”

Action: Imitation — “Do you think Jonah found spiritual victory over his self-centered anger?” “How might the experience with the gourd have given him insight?” “How have you worked through your anger directed at God?”

Action: Practice — “How can we be empowered to make choices that will avoid similar mistakes?”

Action: Habit — “What can we learn from today’s lesson about Jonah that will help us to make a habit of making right choices?”

Avoid questions that arouse defensive resistance. When the teacher begins to teach to the higher levels of cognition, namely faith and action, it is essential to avoid questions dealing with these levels that may threaten the member’s need for freedom, safety, importance, or love.

For example: The teacher may ask a question dealing with application and experience, such as: “Was it good for Jonah to run away from God?” The answer is so obvious, however, that the adult learners’ sense of importance is violated. They may answer politely, but interest is lessened.

Likewise, the discussion leader may want to deal with the domain of faith development and ask: “Why didn’t you have faith enough not to get angry with God when your house burned, Bob?” This question attempts to deal with application, but it is invasive and threatens Bob’s need for freedom as well as importance.

Seminar Evaluation

Being the final evaluation for the seminar series, the Module 12 seminar evaluation goes back over what students have learned from the beginning of this series.

Questions 6 – 10 are quite advanced. Students are asked to demonstrate their understanding and application at the same time. In other words, the student must demonstrate that he/she knows which of the domains the question addresses. They are not to try to answer the questions themselves.

The task is for the student to match the sample question to the correct domain. This is to demonstrate the understanding of the teacher concerning what domain their questions are addressing.

Seminar Evaluation

On a scale of 1 to 10, evaluate your practice of forming and asking questions. You may wish to ask class members to share their evaluation as well.

The teacher or discussion leader:

1.  Asks questions that deal with the domains of faith and action.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

2.  Avoids asking questions that can be answered by rote.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

3.  Avoids asking questions that threaten freedom, importance, or love.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

4.  Milks questions by asking questions related to previous answers.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

5.  Encourages answering questions by making reference to the Bible.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10

Match the following questions with the domain and level (A-E) to which they best apply. There may be more than one correct answer.

A. What happened to Jonah when the men threw him in the water?

B. Why did Jonah not want to go to Nineveh?

C. What kind of spiritual heart condition do you think Jonah might have had prior to his going to sleep in the lower part of the ship?

D. What would be your attitude toward God if you had been in Jonah’s place when he was spewed out on dry ground?

E. What lesson do you see in Jonah’s actions that you can apply to your life?

a. Cognitive: information
b. Faith: love
c. Action: imitation
d. Cognitive: application
e. Faith: interest
f. Action: practice
g. Faith: belief
h. Cognitive: understanding
i. Action: habit


A. A

B. H, g

C. G, b

D. B

E. H, f

Total Possible: 100       Your Score:              
Total the numbers circled for questions 1 – 5.
Give yourself 10 points for each correct answer for questions 6 – 10.

James Kilmer
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists