Effective Questioning Technique in the Classroom

Teachers pose questions of their learners in order to probe their understanding. There is quite an art to the process of effective questioning, and when used effectively, questioning can be a very powerful tool in a teacher's toolkit. Higher-order questioning involves teachers posing more challenging questions which help to develop higher-order thinking skills.

Knowledge bank

Questions are an extremely valuable tool for any teacher, and can be used to clarify learners' understanding, prompt further thinking and help learners to mesh new knowledge into existing frameworks.

A central point about questioning is the need for teachers to vary their questioning style, using a variety of formats including closed and open questions.

Do not forget that there is a place for closed questions, which can have a value in themselves, but that most of the questions you ask as a teacher should be open ones which really make learners think.

There are important links between questioning and thinking skills in that questions can lead learners through different types of thinking, and if used effectively, can help to stimulate higher-order thinking.

Encourage learners to use 'wait time' - at least ten seconds -before offering a response. This requires a culture shift in some classrooms, where traditionally learners have been encouraged to put their hands up, sometimes competitively, to answer a question as quickly as possible.

Some schools take a radical stance and ban 'hands up', in favour of learners discussing among themselves a question and the teacher calling upon different pairs or individuals to offer a response.

Ask yourself

  1. Reflect on the questioning techniques you currently use - to what extent do you use open questions?
  2. What happens when you ask closed questions? - contrast the responses of your learners to situations when you ask more open questions.
  3. In which situations do closed questions seem appropriate?

To do list

  • Be aware of the questioning techniques you're using as you teach - and strive to increase your repertoire over a period of time.
  • Devise a plan that will enable you to use more open questions in your lessons and work with a colleague to embed this into your classrooms.
  • Encourage learners to pose open questions of each other during the lesson.