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Question of the Day

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006
Cam asks his class a question about a geologic timeline shown on an overhead
The Question of the Day is an in-class project that Bill Prothero developed to use at the beginning of class and takes 5-15 minutes. It requires the students to start class as active participants and involves them in the material.

  • The students are encouraged to discuss the questions and then write down their own answers to be turned in.
  • Often the Question of the Day can be used to initiate a class discussion.
  • The Question of the Day should be about the most important points of the class, which will help students study for exams.


Students can be asked to do one of several things:

  • Answer a series of short essay questions about the lecture material
  • Label or annotate a diagram, timeline, or map
  • Graph data
  • Analyze an abstract or brief passage
  • Make predictions based on a description

Context' (depicted at left) at UCSB designed The Question of the Day exercise for his large oceanography class (more info) .

  • He has the students pick up a photocopied collection at the start of term bound with the syllabus.
  • Alternatively, questions involving graphics to be annotated could be passed on photocopies in class
  • Or those without such graphics could be projected onto a screen


The students turn in their answers to be graded by teaching assistants.

  • The recommended grading policy is generosity; 100% for a good-faith effort. Students cannot turn them in if they miss class or are late.
  • Collectively across the term, the question-of-the-day responses are worth about 10% of their grade.
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