Questions tagged [answering-questions]

On handling questions from students or from the audience of a lecture, seminar, thesis defense, or other presentation.

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397 votes
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How to ask dumb questions

I am having trouble asking questions in seminars, conferences, and public talks. As a graduate math student I often fail to keep up with speaker and more mature members of the audience at events like ...
Vlad's user avatar
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192 votes
11 answers
32k views

How to deal with a student who most likely has a mental condition, and keeps arguing with me in class?

I am a TA for an introductory computer programming course at a university in the US. There is one student in particular who, during lecture, will argue with me about every point I make, which eats up ...
homersimpson's user avatar
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159 votes
9 answers
24k views

What to do about questions that are designed to embarrass the speaker?

I've attended a lot of seminars and lectures by now, and it's typical for the chair of the seminar to offer audience members a chance to ask questions of the speaker about their work after the ...
James's user avatar
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137 votes
20 answers
42k views

Useful strategies for answering "dumb" questions in a talk?

It has often been said that there is no such thing as a dumb question. And yet - perhaps due only to inattention, lack of sleep, or hunger - otherwise brilliant people sometimes manage to ask some ...
Dnuorg Spu's user avatar
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118 votes
9 answers
16k views

Asking questions in class: how can I "exit" a Q&A when I haven't really understood?

I'm an undergrad and I tend to learn better when I understand the concepts behind things instead of rote repetition. As a result of this, I often have questions. There are times when I don't ...
Melanie Shebel's user avatar
96 votes
11 answers
40k views

"You are paid to answer my questions!" - how to handle silly questions?

How do I handle silly questions? By silly, I mean questions that are unrelated to the material of the course. First, I am a TA. Recently, a student asked me a very silly question at the end of a lab ...
AJed's user avatar
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60 votes
9 answers
14k views

Professors/Teachers only replying to part of my email

I've been a Computer Sciences student for 4 years now, give or take, and my experience with emailing teachers/professors (teachers from now on) has been either of two cases: they reply to my entire ...
Diamundo's user avatar
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57 votes
7 answers
14k views

Student wants to show everybody how much he knows

I have read this question, where the OP asked how to handle silly questions. In the excellent answer of Irwin, the 6th point attracted my attention: If it's a matter of the student talking on and ...
KKL's user avatar
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55 votes
9 answers
6k views

How to deal with premature student questions during a lecture which will be covered in a subsequent slide?

I teach a group of bright students who will interrupt the material presentation with questions that will be answered in the next slide or sentence. I appreciate that they are thinking ahead but I ...
Sandra Bennett's user avatar
54 votes
12 answers
15k views

What to do with students coming to office hours asking to check their homework?

As a teaching assistant (TA), how to handle the situation where a student comes to office hours asking to check their homework? I.e. the student hands in their solution to the homework and ask the TA ...
Franck Dernoncourt's user avatar
51 votes
11 answers
16k views

How to react when professor wrongly corrects you in public?

I recently defended my master thesis. One thing only went wrong: I said a certain method was rather new (which it was!) and the most senior professor in the room (my supervisor was not there, he had ...
Valjean's user avatar
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48 votes
9 answers
9k views

How should a non-native English presenter respond to a question they did not understand?

I'm not an English native speaker, and my question is, probably, only relevant for non-native speakers. Sometimes, native speakers just don't care how easily the presenter can understand the ...
ikashnitsky's user avatar
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48 votes
12 answers
14k views

How should you respond when a professor answers your question with "It's obvious!"?

I had a math question and I went to my professor's (now a professor at Harvard) office hours (this was a really long time ago). I asked him and he said, "It's obvious!" I sort of said, "...
cgb5436's user avatar
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47 votes
7 answers
10k views

Thesis reviewer requests update to literature review to incorporate last four years of research. Do I need to do this?

I'm about to defend my Phd thesis in November 2016 in software engineering. I started my Phd in February 2010. One of my thesis reviewers stated in his review comments that my bibliography references ...
cProg's user avatar
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47 votes
11 answers
9k views

Should I answer students' questions immediately or teach them to ask better questions?

I'm teaching an online lab (to accompany an in-person course) to undergrads in their 3rd or 4th year of an engineering curriculum this semester. The aim of the lab is not to teach them any particular ...
ff524's user avatar
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45 votes
6 answers
36k views

What should I do if I don't know the answer to a question posed by a student?

If I am the TA for a class, what should I do if a student asks me a question which I can't answer? While "tell the truth and say you don't know" is one approach, are there other options?
M R R's user avatar
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43 votes
7 answers
9k views

What to think of zero feedback at a conference

Is it commonplace to give a presentation at a conference and not have anyone ask a single question afterwards? What should one make of such silent feedback?
The Wonderer's user avatar
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43 votes
5 answers
6k views

How to respond to the trivialisation of one’s work and unjustified demands for a considerable extension of the research?

I am a graduate student in engineering whose work includes a lot of programming and implementation of the developed theories. I am not a computer scientist, but I am a fairly skilled programmer, at ...
user22668's user avatar
  • 439
40 votes
11 answers
8k views

Students and postdocs not asking questions

During and after the talks and seminars in our dept. (~80 people, ~10 groups, ~40 postdocs+PhD+Master students), it is extremely rare to see postdocs or students asking questions. 90-95% of the ...
scrx2's user avatar
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39 votes
14 answers
12k views

What are strategies for minimizing student questions during exams?

Context: I am an assistant professor of mathematics at a small liberal arts college in the US. I generally find student questions during tests and quizzes to be somewhat annoying. I disliked them ...
AegisCruiser's user avatar
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39 votes
8 answers
19k views

How do professors view a student who has good grades but always asks stupid questions?

I am planning to apply for Ph.D programs in mathematics in U.S. and I am thinking about which professors I should ask for letters of recommendations from. In order to get "strong" letters, I need to ...
No One's user avatar
  • 4,196
37 votes
9 answers
5k views

Saying "good question" during a seminar talk

During seminars and talks, some presenters hear a question and compliment it by saying "Good question." Could this possibly offend the asker? Could this be viewed as a tactic to pretend being unfazed ...
Asker's user avatar
  • 395
33 votes
4 answers
12k views

How can I politely tell a student that I already support him several times and that is enough?

I have a student who sends me emails twice a week showing me his updated dissertation. At first I supported him a lot. But he literally does what I say word by word and never goes beyond what I tell ...
Anonymous's user avatar
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33 votes
5 answers
6k views

What to do if an audience member refuses to let you answer their question?

I was reading this question about famous people asking rude questions in talks, and it reminded me of a situation which happened at the end of my academic career. I would really like some advice on ...
Flounderer's user avatar
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31 votes
5 answers
11k views

How should I handle students who ask questions that are "beyond the scope of the course" as a TA

One of the most common replies I have gotten as a student in engineering is the phrase "what you are asking is beyond the scope of this course". But I always found it a bit funny coming from the prof ...
Fraïssé's user avatar
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31 votes
4 answers
10k views

How to deal with students asking very incremental questions?

I'm a TA/grader for an online course in introductory programming. We have students ask us questions related to homework/labs/etc. on Piazza where we can have quick back-and-forth with questions and ...
user473973's user avatar
30 votes
5 answers
1k views

How to deploy a StackExchange-style question and answer site for a university subject?

Problems with discussion boards: After being involved with StackExchange for a couple of years, I've really grown to despise standard discussion boards. All those meandering threads, no commenting, no ...
Jeromy Anglim's user avatar
29 votes
9 answers
5k views

How to respond to “philosophical” questions that aim to undermine a position or derail a discussion?

A colleague of mine enjoys using philosophical questions to undermine ideas that are different to his own and to derail discussions that are not in his favour. At first I thought he was offering ...
Komm's user avatar
  • 393
28 votes
8 answers
14k views

When can asking a question during lecture be offensive?

During my masters, I used to ask a lot of questions in class and during the lecture. Whenever I had a doubt I used to ask questions. It was my habit which my undergraduate teachers inculcated in me ...
Supriyo's user avatar
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27 votes
13 answers
10k views

How can I encourage students to ask questions in class

In my field (as in many others), students are assigned articles or textbook chapters to be read as preparation for classes (i.e. the whole class has to read the same set of texts). I encourage my ...
Robert's user avatar
  • 1,676
25 votes
6 answers
3k views

What to do when students bring me questions related to other courses and subjects?

I teach all of the writing courses for one of my college's STEM department. Occasionally, students bring me questions related to their field, e.g. they are doing some project for another course and ...
Village's user avatar
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24 votes
10 answers
11k views

Is it normal to have a bad feeling after asking questions?

I am a postdoc in math who defended his Ph.D. a year ago. I have 4 papers where three of them were written by me(only author). From time to time, when I don't understand some part of a paper, I send ...
Adam's user avatar
  • 1,362
23 votes
5 answers
9k views

How to handle relevant, but disruptive, questions

I've seen on this site several posts about how to handle silly or "trolling" questions, but I recently faced the opposite situation. Several students in a class I'm teaching continuously bring up ...
Florian D'Souza's user avatar
23 votes
3 answers
6k views

Dealing with someone who asks many questions during presentations

While giving a presentation there is one person in the audience (X a PhD student and a friend) asking all sorts of questions, even unrelated ones. They are also eager to answer questions of others ...
Sathyam's user avatar
  • 2,213
23 votes
4 answers
29k views

What questions to prepare for PhD defense?

I will soon defend my PhD in social science in Sweden. I want to ask what questions the evaluation committee will ask me during the defense? If they ask me some questions outside my thesis, what ...
Cheng Chang's user avatar
22 votes
2 answers
5k views

What to do about fellow student that hogs lecture time with many questions

I am in a master's program, and one of my peers in the program is in two classes with me. He is a nice person, but he tends to ask a lot of questions in lectures; both of which are very large, and ...
Byte Lab's user avatar
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21 votes
4 answers
3k views

What should I do if a professor says she doesn't understand my questions in office hours?

I am having difficulties in math, and every time I try to go to my math professor's office hours she always seems annoyed. When I ask her a question she always says something to the effect "I don't ...
user28663's user avatar
  • 211
18 votes
5 answers
2k views

Overcoming nerves from anticipating conference questions

My field is atmospheric physics. The irony is that I have been a school teacher for over a decade, but soon, I'll be giving a presentation of some of my findings at a conference. I think that the ...
user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

How can one carry out a "Russian style" seminar?

A "Russian style" seminar, as in the Israel Gelfand form, breaks from the traditional format of talk followed by Q&A and just opens the floor to questions at any time. I've seen a few professors ...
bobthejoe's user avatar
  • 4,745
16 votes
3 answers
864 views

How to balance lecture participation and not being considered a show-off?

I am a student in a rather small (20-40 students) lecture. This lecture is mandatory for the students of this subject in this semester. In the course of the lecture the professor regularly asks ...
problemofficer - n.f. Monica's user avatar
13 votes
6 answers
5k views

Can I use a fake email address for asking simple questions to experts?

I am a postdoc in math. From time to time, I have some simple questions, which I believe most graduate students know in their field. So, I email specialists to ask them. I sometimes noticed that ...
Adam's user avatar
  • 1,362
12 votes
4 answers
5k views

Is supervisor bound to clarify the technical queries of a Ph.D. researcher?

Summary: are PhD advisers obligated to help with technical questions / tasks that PhD student is trying to solve? This question arose due to my confusion regarding the role of a Ph.D. supervisor. I ...
hanugm's user avatar
  • 7,779
10 votes
3 answers
3k views

Are academic questions (used in textbooks etc.) owned by the publisher, or is anyone able to use them in their own content?

I am wondering whether mathematical and scientific questions (or any type of question to be honest) is considered to be owned by the publisher? For example, if I see a math question in a textbook, am ...
Charles W's user avatar
  • 103
9 votes
2 answers
5k views

How to answer questions in a conference talk that I should know the answer to, but don't?

In a few days, I will be giving my first conference talk. I have only spent less than a year in the field, and the talk will be attended by several well-known researches, who are familiar with all of ...
user61117's user avatar
  • 552
9 votes
3 answers
4k views

How to deal with a professor that continuously dismisses student questions?

I'm taking a distributed systems course at a well known university in the U.S. I've noticed my professor has three primary forms of responding to student questions during his lecture: Immediately ...
MrDuk's user avatar
  • 249
9 votes
1 answer
189 views

How to encourage students to answers questions from other students posted in Q&A online places dedicated to the classroom (e.g. Piazza)

How can an instructor or teaching assistant encourage students to answers questions from other students posted in private Q&A online platforms dedicated to the classroom (e.g. Piazza), put aside ...
Franck Dernoncourt's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
303 views

Does students asking questions in class improve the learning outcome of the entire class?

Is there any research/study/survey that looked at whether / to what extent students asking questions in class improve the learning outcome of the entire class? I am most interested in computer ...
Franck Dernoncourt's user avatar
7 votes
5 answers
5k views

What are the steps I need to take when an author won't answer clarification questions?

I have recently read a paper in the Journal of Empirical Finance. I was interested in the methodology that the author was using, but in terms of the data collection, the writing was particularly brief ...
user30609's user avatar
  • 641
7 votes
4 answers
3k views

When to take questions during a thesis defense?

I am going do do my thesis defense next week. I am not nervous. On the contrary, I am so over-relaxed that my instincts tell me this will cause a problem during my defense. I am not sure when to take ...
padawan's user avatar
  • 12.3k
7 votes
3 answers
3k views

Student asking too many questions without trying themself

I work at a bootcamp where I teach programming. I have a student in my class who would ask 1 question every minute. This student would ask about every single thing like where to add this code and how ...
John Carpenter's user avatar