Sometimes, less is more. So, here is one question I have used with good success. It can be asked of any teacher at almost any time and will provide you with a clear starting point to help the student.
"What two or three specific actions can the student take immediately that would have the greatest positive impact on his/her results?"
Three important results of this question (and answer):
- "Specific" - Answers must be specific to be useful. Responses such as, "Work harder", "Study more", and "Put forth additional effort" are not specific. Useful responses paint a clear picture of what action needs to be taken and leave little to no room for misinterpretation.
- "Immediately" - Begin NOW. Remember, the standard of satisfaction is not perfection. Get started and adjust as needed.
- "Greatest" - Forces the answer to speak to the most efficient course of action. Also, it requires the person answering to reflect deeply on their response.
You can use this question for ore than helping students. Change a few words and you can apply it to your class, division, school, team, business, etc.
Try using it yourself and let me know how it worked.