Skip to content

Effective Questioning

Questioning is a Learner Engagement strategy.

Being able to effectively question students is a skill that can enhance engagement, learning, creativity, passion, and curiosity. Effective questioning is characterized by how the students are able/required to respond:

  • Structure - open (multiple possibilities) vs closed (one possibility)
  • Cognitive effort - higher order vs lower order (see Bloom's Digital Taxonomy)
  • Directionality - divergent (exploration) vs convergent (broad to narrow)

Emphasis should be toward questions that are open ended and require higher order cognitive skills. Directionality depends on the desired learning goals and can be utilized in concert to explore a topic/idea/concept thoroughly.

Characteristics of Effective Questioning

  • Has a plan for the topic/idea/concept
      • What is the purpose and possible outcomes?
      • Seeks higher cognitive effort (see Bloom's Digital Taxonomy)
      • Requires learners to be prepared for the concept/topic/problem
  • Maintains focus on topic/idea/concept
      • Asks ONE question at a time
          • Display for all to see
          • Contextualize appropriately (specific conditions)
      • Redirects promptly fromdistractors (lesser related topics/perspectives)
          • Emphasizes topic/idea/concept relevance
  • Is meaningful and purposeful
      • Positively contributes to learning
      • Logically builds on the concept/topic and responses
  • Probes and explores initial responses for greater synthesis, analysis, justification, etc.
      • Prioritizes substantive responses based on research, data, and logic
      • Seeks possible alternative perspectives/possibilities
      • Connects to other pertinent learning
  • Is positive and constructive
      • Focus on what is being learned
  • Allows time for learners to process (7-20 secs)
      • Ask the same question in different ways
      • Pair or group learners to discuss before responding
  • Summarizes the discussion

Purpose of Questions

  • Amplify a topic/concept/idea
  • Identify cause and effect relationships between topics/ideas/concepts
  • Characterize or clarify a topic/concept/idea
  • Compare and contrast topics/ideas/concepts
  • Create new ways of knowing
  • Differentiate between topics/ideas/concepts
  • Define or categorize a topic/concept/idea
  • Provide examples for a topic/concept/idea
  • Justify an idea or perspective
  • Paraphrase or summarize a topic/concept/idea
  • Qualify a topic/concept/idea
  • Synthesize topics/ideas/concepts

Integrating Questions into Your Courses

Utilize questioning

  • Before class to
      • Review and reflect on previous learning episodes and check for understanding (CFU)
      • Initiate new learning experiences
  • Start of class to
      • Review previous learning episodes and CFU
      • Initiate new learning experiences
  • During class to
      • Stimulate creativity and innovation
        • Explore possible alternatives
        • Identify changes due to context
      • Guide problem-solving (redirect strategies when necessary)
      • Seek collaborations (think, pair, share)
      • CFU
  • After class to
      • Continue the learning process and guide readings, practice, research, and creative endeavors
      • Guide learning activities and group work

More on Questioning

Last Published: Mar 12, 2021