Asking questions is an important part of learning any skill or subject. There are three types of students who ask questions, which do you think is the most popular.
Trying To Fit In
A learning environment is designed to increase learning. Asking questions is a natural part to the learning process. However, there are those types of students who ask questions only to hear themselves talk. I don’t much mind these types of students, many times it is a method of coping with a new new subject. While there are those who deal with new subjects by withdrawing, there are some who “talk out loud”. Here is the mistake you can make as an instructor, when you treat them as if they purposefully trying to disrupt the class. I honestly don’t feel that is their intention. Many times students will want to make sure they understand what is going on and it is in your best interest to confirm or correct.
Stop What You Are Doing
The next group of students are those who ask questions because they are not paying attention. I have less patience in this case. I try to deal with this early on, but again you have to confirm or correct to ensure a safe training environment. You don’t want to put them in a position where they abstain from asking a legitimate question because you might give them a hard time. They may end up failing to follow instructions that results in something bad happening. The first thing I address is when the instructor is talking, briefing or explaining as a student you stop what you are doing. I don’t care what it is, stop and give them your undivided attention. That means don’t be loading magazines, writing notes or talking with other students. You genuinely have to pay attention so you can best follow instructions.
Another group of students are those who ask you questions to test your knowledge. I don’t mind these types of questions, but are the relevant to the skill, drill or learning objective. If not, then they are wasteful. We have a timeline to keep and while it has built in space for questions they need to be relevant. I make the assumption when a student pays their tuition, takes off from work and family, acquires the necessary equipment they are interested in what I have to say. Not what an other instructor thinks or says. It is also bad form to bad mouth another instructor. It happens more than it should even by yours truly and something we all need to abstain from. While you may not agree with them, they are a peer and we have enough issues outside of our industry to create more drama inside.
The last group are those who genuinely have a question relevant to the subject at hand. They do not fit into the earlier categories. I enjoy talking with these students in classes. Probably not for the reasons you think, but because it challenges me to deliver my message in a better format. No matter the reason, if they are asking a question it is because they don’t understand the “why” or the “how” and that is on me or my instructor staff. It challenges us because there are several different learning styles. As an instructor you have to figure out a way to help the student understand. If they are more sight centric, redo the demo. If they are more auditory centric, re-brief the drill in smaller steps. If they are psychomotor then give them the opportunity to practice under your watchful eye.
Yes, some students will ask a question to be a jerk. The rest are trying to better understand your message so take the time to deliver it in a better manner.