Instructional design
by
Danny de Bruijn
,
Founder & CXO

How to ask questions that boost learning

In VR training, you can use different ways to ask questions that improve the learning experience of your trainees by making scenarios more engaging or challenging. In this post we explain four different question types you can use and their effect on knowledge retention.

In Warp Studio you can use the following question types:

  • Short active questions: to create an interactive scenario.
  • Conflict questions: to add challenge and emotion to your scenario.
  • Knowledge questions: to test theoretical knowledge.
  • Review questions: to ask in-depth questions.

Let’s dive into these question types to learn what they are and how you can best use them.

Short active questions

Short active questions are the foundation of every interactive scenario, as they make the trainees feel part of the story. This is called ‘presence’.

Why use active questions?

Active questions enable trainees to interact with your scenario and feel feel like they're present. Their decisions have an impact on the story, which makes them feel responsible for what happens. And eventually, that will give them new insights into their behavior, and spark their intrinsic motivation to change or learn something new.

You make a question active by using a verb. Examples we use often include:

  • What do you do?
  • What do you say?
  • What do you take?
  • What do you need?
  • Where do you go?
     

Why use short questions?

Using short questions helps you to avoid longer, leading questions. It also forces you to include all the information the trainees need in order to answer questions in the preceding videos. By providing trainees with an experience instead of just text, your videos become more meaningful and realistic. It also supports scenario creators to come up with consequences for every answer.

A few examples:

  • Don't tell them the alarm goes off. Let them hear it.
  • Don’t tell them their manager is upset. Let the manager tell them.
  • Don’t tell them they picked up something. Let them pick it up using a hotspot.

Conflict questions

From collaborating with experienced screenwriters, we’ve become a fan of conflict questions as an effective way to make your scenarios more challenging. A conflict means that there is something at stake, which makes your trainees think harder before they select an answer. Emotion can play an important part in this, for example in questions with several answers that all have a big impact.

An example: Let’s say that you are a ground steward(ess) standing at the gate, where already a lot of people are waiting to board. Suddenly the phone rings… You finally get the signal that you can start boarding. It takes a while, but you manage to get everyone in on time — except for one passenger, who is still missing. After a long wait, the pilot decides to go. But then a friendly looking gentleman rushes to you. He is very restless. You tell him you are sorry but he is too late. He panics and tells you that his daughter is getting married and he has promised to give her away. He really must be on this flight or he will miss the wedding.

You have two choices: Do you let the gentleman board, or not? Stopping the plane will mean that it will not depart on time and all passengers will be late. But otherwise, this gentleman will miss the wedding of his daughter.

A conflict is a great way to test the endurance and fortitude of trainees. If the trainee chooses to not let the gentleman board the plane, you can make it more emotional by asking the same question more than once in a more intense way. The gentleman can for example provide more information (e.g. he is his daughter's only family as his wife just passed away) that makes a decision more difficult to maintain.

Knowledge questions

Our story-based immersive scenarios power many practical training types, by putting people in certain situations in a scalable and realistic way. Although the main focus here is on practice, there is a strong connection with theoretical knowledge. As a trainer, you also want to know whether trainees know the right theory to handle situations. This is where knowledge questions can be used.

Example: You are a bank employee and have an appointment with a new customer. She sits across from you and tells you that she wants to open a safe.

Then a question pops up:

What does she need?

  • She needs to be a client for 6 months
  • She needs to show three salary slips
  • She needs to show her passport

When multiple options are needed, you could also ask what they don’t need. Or when you need answers in a specific order, you could ask what they need first.

It is easy to create large scenarios with this question type. By using knowledge questions that are part of a story and need to be answered correctly by trainees in order to proceed (like in the example above), you help them to get the most out of the training.

Review questions

Review questions can be used to deepen questions and test the knowledge levels of trainees.

Two examples:

After a short active question

You are a train driver about to start a train. You get the question:

What do you do first?

You select a lever that you want to operate. Then a review question pops up:

Why are you using this lever first?

With this question, you can test if trainees really know the correct answer to the previous question.

After multiple questions

You had a conversation with an angry customer. Halfway through the scenario, you get the question:

What is most important for this customer?

With this question, you can test whether trainees really understand the customer and listened carefully.

Conclusion

Using different question types helps to make your scenarios more engaging and challenging, but you don't need to use all types in every scenario you create. We recommend to use the examples above as a checklist for inspiration while creating your stories and scenarios. Let us know if you come up with new types we didn’t think of!          

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