How important is questioning?

Questioning plays an important part in how our students respond to us. If we get our questioning right we may elicit responses from a wide variety of students with detailed answers, get it wrong and we can be met with blank stares and silence.

To help understand the powerful impact our phrasing of questions can have watch this great video sourced from Twitter (retweeted by @Towny47).

So what is good questioning and what makes a good questioning environment (this is not an exhaustive list)?

  • Selecting the appropriate question type (open, closed or multiple choice) depending on what you are seeking from the student. Open inquiry questions will elicit deeper thinking.
  • Use a scaffold (like Blooms) to develop a range of question starters that allow students of different abilities entry points into a concept.
  • Use wait time. Give students the chance to think. Let students know they have time to think. Research suggests 3-5 seconds before any speaks leads to students answering better (we need to put up with the awkward silence).
  • Not all questions have one right answer (respecting student answers and the thinking behind them).
  • Follow up questions that allow students to think deeper about their original answers.
  • Have a system of questioning that allows for the random selection of students i.e. names on popsticks.
  • Have class norms that develop a culture of “its ok to answer questions”.


How Can Quality Questioning Transform Classrooms? Questioning to Advance Thinking, Learning, and Achievement

The skill of questioning

Engaging students through effective questions





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