Top ten techniques to remediate questions for students with hearing loss

by Jennifer Manley, MS, CED

Teachers ask students wh-questions for a variety of reasons: to engage the class in discussion, to have students demonstrate their knowledge, to gather information, and to assess understanding. Students with hearing loss often find answering questions difficult.  As professionals working with these students, it’s important to have techniques for remediating questions when students have difficulty answering. The goal is to transfer responsibility from the teacher to the students.

Here are ten techniques you can use:

  1. Simply repeat the question:
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
    St: Incorrect or no response.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
  2. Repeat the question using acoustic highlighting.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
    St: Incorrect or no response.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
  3. Make a statement to clarify or set up the setting and then ask the question.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
    St: Incorrect or no response.
    T: Remember we talked about Washington, D.C. and the government.  Who is the President of the United States?
  4. Call the student’s attention to the error he made and redirect to the original question.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
    St: He is the boss of the United States?
    T: You told me his job.  I asked, “Who is the President of the United States?”
  5. Use different vocabulary to reword the question.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
    St: Incorrect or no response.
    T: Who is the boss of the United States?
    St: Responds correctly.
    T: _____ is the boss, or the President, of the United States.
  6. Give clues to help the student know what his error is. Then reword the question.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
    St: He lives in the White House and has brown hair.
    T: You’re right, you told me about him.  Now what is his name?
  7. Give examples of wrong answers to help guide them to the correct answer.
    T: Who is the President of the United States?
    St: Incorrect or no response.
    T: Is the President George Washington?  Abraham Lincoln?
  8. Have the student reread the text to find the answer. Teachers may accept the student reading the answer from the text but then have the child close or cover the text and tell the answer again or have the student say it using his own language.
  9. Have one child help another child.
    T: Joe, who is the President of the United States?
    St 1: Incorrect or no response.
    T: Sally, can you help Joe by telling him who is the President of the United States?
    St 2: ________ is the President of the United States.
    T: Joe, who is the President of the United States?
    St 1: ________ is the President of the United States.
  10. Teacher asks higher-level comprehension question and then uses breakdown detail questions to help the student formulate his answer. The teacher then asks the original question again.
    Example 1:
    T: Explain the job of the President of the United States.
    St: Incorrect or no response.
    T: What is one thing the President has to do?
    St: The President helps people.
    T: You are right.  What does the President do to help people?
    St: The President helps make laws.
    T: Yes. Why do we need laws?
    St: The laws help protect the people in the United States.
    T: Explain the job of the President of the United States.
    St: The President helps the people and makes laws to protect the people.

    Example 2:

    T: Describe a post office.
    St: Incorrect or no response.
    T: What will you see at a post office?
    St: I will see lots of letters and stamps.
    T: Who works at the post office?
    St: A mail carrier works at the post office.
    T: Describe a post office.

Use a variety of these techniques to help remediate questions with your students. Print the list above to use as a reminder while teaching. Which ones do you find most helpful?

Jennifer Manley served as a classroom teacher for students ages 3 to 12 at CID – Central Institute for the Deaf. She currently works in professional development giving presentations on auditory development and is co-author of CID SPICE for Life, an auditory learning curriculum and author of the 2nd edition of CID SPICE.

5 replies
  1. Sara Z.
    Sara Z. says:

    Hi Ms. Manley,

    Thank you for sharing this list of techniques to remediate wh-questions. I am currently a graduate student in the speech-language pathology program and currently have a pediatric client. When asking wh-questions to my client, I find myself rewording or repeating the question often. Your post have definitely opened my eyes to other ways of remediating these questions depending on the needs of the student. There are students who might need more than just repetitions to understand a wh-question, and instead need the question to be broken down into parts or need their errors to be highlighted. I know I will be using these techniques in my own practice from now on!

    -Sara

    Reply
  2. Sydne
    Sydne says:

    Hi Ms. Manley,

    Thank you for sharing these techniques for remediating questions for students with hearing loss. I enjoyed reading each technique and appreciated the various levels of scaffolding within each remediation. I am currently a graduate student studying the education of students with multiple and severe disabilities and can definitely see myself using these techniques in my classroom. I think it is important to realize that sometimes students need a question repeated or rephrased in order to respond and that it shouldn’t be assumed that the student does not know the answer. I agree that these techniques would be beneficial for students with hearing loss as it is difficult for them to answer questions, but I can also see the benefits in using these techniques with students of all abilities (especially those with processing difficulties or vocabulary deficits). Thank you for this resource, I look forward to using it in my future classroom.

    Reply
  3. Sarah S.
    Sarah S. says:

    This is an extremely useful comprehensive list of strategies, and one that can be easily applied to all subjects. The examples you provided of specific ways the teacher can prompt the student are especially helpful. I am graduate student studying how to teach students with severe and multiple disabilities. Because of my background in special education, I feel that this list will be useful to me not only with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, but also with students of most other disabilities (especially those with processing disorders), and even students without disabilities who are just having trouble grasping a concept. I think if all teachers used similar strategies with any struggling student, students might generally be able to understand concepts more easily. I look forward to having this list as a resource in my future career.

    Reply
  4. Lia
    Lia says:

    Hi Ms. Manley,
    I enjoyed reading your post about the promotion of students’ capacity to correctly respond to WH- questions. I am currently a graduate student studying severe and multiple disabilities special education with a focus on autism and intellectual disability (ID). I appreciated the diverse techniques you shared to help prompt and scaffold students to identify accurate responses. You effectively demonstrate that teachers can support students’ acquisition of answers rather than immediately provide them with the expected answers when they do not initially respond correctly. It is important to offer students opportunities to analyze and interpret inquiries in disparate ways. Teachers may need to present inquiries by using alternative phrasing, tone, contexts, vocabulary, and examples in order for students to make connections between the information learned and what is being asked. Although your post is intended for students who are deaf or heard of hearing, I have used all of the strategies you described for the population of students with whom I work. However, in addition to the various verbal prompts you suggested, I also often incorporate visual or gestural cues.

    Thank you for your post. I will certainly refer to your list of ideas in the future.

    Reply
  5. Jillian
    Jillian says:

    It is helpful to have a succinct list like this to keep as a resource in the classroom with examples of all the techniques listed. I often find myself quickly rewording the way I phrased a question, assuming that it is likely a confusion with the words I’ve chosen or how I asked it. This is a good reminder that sometimes just repeating the question is helpful, and then changing the specific vocabulary used may be beneficial. Thank you for compiling and sharing this list!

    Reply

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