Ch. 9 Questioning

Faculty of Education & UQx LEARNx team of contributors; The open Resource ngân hàng for Interactive Teaching; & University of Cambridge



The interaction between teacher & learners is the most important feature of the classroom. Whether helping learners khổng lồ acquire basic skills or a better understanding khổng lồ solve problems, or to lớn engage in higher-order thinking such as evaluation, questions are crucial. Of course, questions may be asked by students as well as teachers: they are essential tools for both teaching và learning.

Bạn đang xem: Change the following from direct to reported speech

For teachers, questioning is a key skill that anyone can learn lớn use well. Similarly, ways of helping students develop their own ability khổng lồ raise and formulate questions can also be learned. Raising questions & knowing the right question to ask is an important learning skill that students need lớn be taught.

Research into questioning has given some clear pointers as khổng lồ what works. These can provide the basis of improving classroom practice. A very common problem identified by the research is that students are frequently not provided with enough ‘wait time’ to lớn consider an answer; another is that teachers tend to ask too many of the same type of questions. (Adapted from Types Of Question, section Intro). (ORBIT)

Questioning Techniques

In 1940, Stephen Corey analyzed verbatim transcripts of classroom talk for one week across six different classes. His intent was to interrogate what the talk revealed about the learners’ increase in understanding. He wrote, however, that “the study was not successful for the simple reason that during the five class days involved the pupils did not talk enough to give any evidence of mental development; the teachers talked two-thirds of the time” (p. 746). The research focus thus shifted lớn patterns of questioning.

Findings included:

For every student query, teachers asked approximately 11 questionsStudents averaged less than one question each, while teachers averaged more than 200 questions eachTeachers often answered their own questionsFewer teacher questions requires deep thinking by the learner

Much has changed since 1940 – except, it seems, these patterns. Classroom discourse continues to lớn be dominated by the ‘recitation script’: teachers asking known-answer questions (Howe và Abedin, 2013) that limit opportunities for learners to experience cognitive challenge, thereby inhibiting effective learning (Alexander, 2008).

Effective questioning techniques are critical lớn learner engagement & are a key strategy for supporting students to lớn engage thoughtfully and critically with more complex concepts & ideas

(UQx:LEARNx Deep Learning Through Transformative Pedagogy)

Why Question?

The purposes of questioning

Teachers ask questions for a number of reasons, the most common of which are

to interest, engage and challenge studentsto check on prior knowledge và understandingto stimulate recall, mobilizing existing knowledge & experience in order to create new understanding & meaningto focus students’ thinking on key concepts & issuesto help students khổng lồ extend their thinking from the concrete & factual to the analytical & evaluativeto lead students through a planned sequence which progressively establishes key understandingsto promote reasoning, problem solving, evaluation and the formulation of hypothesesto promote students’ thinking about the way they have learned

The kind of question asked will depend on the reason for asking it. Questions are often referred to as ‘open’ or ‘closed’.

Closed questions, which have one clear answer, are useful to kiểm tra understanding during explanations & in recap sessions. If you want to kiểm tra recall, then you are likely lớn ask a fairly closed question, for example ‘What is the grid reference for Great Malvern?’ or ‘What bởi vì we call this type of text?’

On the other hand, if you want to lớn help students develop higher-order thinking skills, you will need to ask more open questions that allow students to lớn give a variety of acceptable responses. During class discussions & debriefings, it is useful to ask xuất hiện questions, for example ‘Which of these four sources were most useful in helping with this inquiry?’, ‘Given all the conflicting arguments, where would you build the new superstore?’, ‘What vị you think might affect the size of the current in this circuit?’

Questioning is sometimes used khổng lồ bring a student’s attention back khổng lồ the task in hand, for example ‘What do you think about that, Peter?’ or ‘Do you agree?’ (Adapted from Types Of Question, section Why).

A striking insight provided by classroom research is that much talk between teachers and their students has the following pattern: a teacher’s question, a student’s response, & then an evaluative bình luận by the teacher. This is described as an Initiation-Response-Feedback exchange, or IRF. Here’s an example

I – Teacher – What’s the capital thành phố of Argentina?

R – Pupil – Buenos Aires

F – Teacher – Yes, well done

This pattern was first pointed out in the 1970s by the British researchers Sinclair and Coulthard. Their original research was reported in: Sinclair, J. & Coulthard, M. (1975) Towards an Analysis of Discourse: the English used by Teachers & Pupils. London: Oxford University Press.

Sinclair & Coulthard’s research has been the basis for extended debates about whether or not teachers should ask so many questions lớn which they already know the answer; và further debate about the range of uses and purposes of IRF in working classrooms. Despite all this, it seems that many teachers (even those who have qualified in recent decades) have not heard of it. Is this because their training did not include any examination of the structures of classroom talk – or because even if it did, the practical value of such an examination was not made clear?

A teacher’s professional development (and, indeed, the development of members of any profession) should involve the gaining of critical insights into professional practice – to lớn learn to lớn see behind the ordinary, the taken for granted, & to question the effectiveness of what is normally done. Recognizing the inherent structure of teacher-student talk is a valuable step in that direction. Student teachers need to see how they almost inevitably converge on other teachers’ style and generate the conventional patterns of classroom talk.

By noting this, they can begin to lớn consider what effects this has on student participation in class. There is nothing wrong with the use of IRFs by teachers, but question-and-answer routines can be used both productively và unproductively. (Adapted from The Importance of Speaking và Listening, section IRF). (ORBIT

Professor Robyn Gillies, from The University of Queensland, explores some questioning techniques and strategies that can tư vấn deep learning.

Example questions that promote dialogical discourse include things like:

On one hand you’re telling me this, but on the other hand you’re saying something quite different.I wonder how these two positions could be reconciled?Can you explain that another way?Tell us again what you meant by …?Have you considered looking at it this way What might this or that type of person think about that?

These kinds of questions are designed to lớn challenge students’ thinking & encourage them to think about things in different ways. By creating a state of cognitive dissonance in students, they have to reconsider their thinking.

Questions that scaffold students thinking might include things like:

Have you considered using different descriptors in your search for the information you need?Have you thought about using some of this information to lớn help you develop your ideas?Why don’t you try brainstorming some of the problems và how could you solve them?

Both types of questions are used interchangeably to help students clarify their thoughts and think more deeply about issues.

(UQx:LEARNx Deep Learning Through Transformative Pedagogy)

In this next clip Professor John Hattie, from the University of Melbourne, elaborates on our understanding of why questions are an essential component of developing self-regulated learners.

Click here khổng lồ watch video (4:43 minutes)

(UQx:LEARNx Deep Learning Through Transformative Pedagogy)

Summary of research

Effective questioning

Research evidence suggests that effective teachers use a greater number of mở cửa questions than less effective teachers. The phối of mở cửa and closed questions will, of course, depend on what is being taught & the objectives of the lesson. However, teachers who ask no xuất hiện questions in a lesson may be providing insufficient cognitive challenges for students.

Questioning is one of the most extensively researched areas of teaching & learning. This is because of its central importance in the teaching & learning process. The research falls into three broad categories

What is effective questioning?How bởi questions engage students & promote responses?How bởi vì questions develop students’ cognitive abilities?

What is effective questioning?

Questioning is effective when it allows students khổng lồ engage with the learning process by actively composing responses. Research (Borich 1996; Muijs and Reynolds 2001; Morgan và Saxton 1994; Wragg & Brown 2001) suggests that lessons where questioning is effective are likely to lớn have the following characteristics

Questions are planned và closely linked to lớn the objectives of the lesson.The learning of basic skills is enhanced by frequent questions following the exposition of new content that has been broken down into small steps. Each step should be followed by guided practice that provides opportunities for students to lớn consolidate what they have learned và that allows teachers to kiểm tra understanding.Closed questions are used to kiểm tra factual understanding và recall.Open questions predominate.Sequences of questions are planned so that the cognitive cấp độ increases as the questions go on. This ensures that students are led lớn answer questions which demand increasingly higher-order thinking skills, but are supported on the way by questions which require less sophisticated thinking skills.Students have opportunities lớn ask their own questions and seek their own answers. They are encouraged to lớn provide feedback lớn each other.The classroom climate is one where students feel secure enough khổng lồ take risks, be tentative và make mistakes.

Xem thêm: Tổ Quốc Ghi Ơn Người Anh Hùng Mũ Đỏ Tên Đương " Là Ai? Tổ Quốc Ghi Ơn Người Anh Hùng Mũ Đỏ Tên Đương!

The research emphasizes the importance of using open, higher-level questions khổng lồ develop students’ higher-order thinking skills.

Clearly there needs lớn be a balance between mở cửa and closed questions, depending on the topic và objectives for the lesson. A closed question, such as ‘What is the next number in the sequence?’, can be extended by a follow-up question, such as ‘How did you work that out?’

Overall, the research shows that effective teachers use a greater number of higher- order questions and xuất hiện questions than less effective teachers.

However, the research also demonstrates that most of the questions asked by both effective & less effective teachers are lower order and closed. It is estimated that 70–80 percent of all learning-focused questions require a simple factual response, whereas only 20–30 percent lead students khổng lồ explain, clarify, expand, generalize or infer. In other words, only a minority of questions demand that students use higher-order thinking skills.

How vị questions engage students và promote responses?

It doesn’t matter how good và well-structured your questions are if your students vị not respond. This can be a problem with shy students or older students who are not used to lớn highly interactive teaching. It can also be a problem with students who are not very interested in school or engaged with learning. The research identifies a number of strategies which are helpful in encouraging student response. (See Borich 1996; Muijs và Reynolds 2001; Morgan and Saxton 1994; Wragg và Brown 2001; Rowe 1986; Black và Harrison 2001; black et al. 2002.)

Pupil response is enhanced where

there is a classroom climate in which students feel safe and know they will not be criticized or ridiculed if they give a wrong answerprompts are provided to lớn give students confidence to try an answerthere is a ‘no-hands’ approach khổng lồ answering, where you choose the respondent rather than have them volunteer‘wait time’ is provided before an answer is required. The research suggests that 3 seconds is about right for most questions, with the proviso that more complex questions may need a longer wait time. Research shows that the average wait time in classrooms is about 1 second (Rowe 1986; Borich 1996)

How vì chưng questions develop students’ cognitive abilities?

Lower-level questions usually demand factual, descriptive answers that are relatively easy to lớn give. Higher-level questions require more sophisticated thinking from students; they are more complex and more difficult khổng lồ answer. Higher-level questions are central khổng lồ students’ cognitive development, & research evidence suggests that students’ levels of achievement can be increased by regular access khổng lồ higher-order thinking. (See Borich 1996; Muijs & Reynolds 2001; Morgan và Saxton 1994; Wragg và Brown 2001; Black and Harrison 2001.)

When you are planning higher-level questions, you will find it useful khổng lồ use Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (Bloom and Krathwohl 1956) lớn help structure questions which will require higher-level thinking. Bloom’s taxonomy is a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. The taxonomy classifies cognitive learning into six levels of complexity and abstraction.


On this scale, recalling relevant knowledge is the lowest-order thinking skill và creating is the highest.

Bloom researched thousands of questions routinely asked by teachers & categorized them. His research, và that of others, suggests that most learning- focused questions asked in classrooms fall into the first two categories, with few questions falling into the other categories which relate to lớn higher-order thinking skills.

Common Pitfalls of Questioning and possible solutions

Although questions are the most common khung of interaction between teachers and students, it is fair to lớn say that questions are not always well judged or productive for learning. This section identifies some common pitfalls of questioning và suggests some ways to lớn avoid them.

Not being clear about why you are asking the question: You will need khổng lồ reflect on the kind of lesson you are planning. Is it one where you are mainly focusing on facts, rules và sequences of actions? If that is the case, you will be more likely to lớn ask closed questions which relate to knowledge. Or is it a lesson where you are focusing mainly on comprehension, concepts & abstractions? In that case you will be more likely khổng lồ use mở cửa questions which relate khổng lồ analysis, synthesis và evaluation.

Asking too many closed questions that need only a short answer: It helps if you plan mở cửa questions in advance. Another strategy is to lớn establish an optimum length of response by saying something lượt thích ‘I don’t want an answer of less than 15 words.’

Asking too many questions at once: Asking about a complex issue can often lead lớn complex questions. Since these questions are oral rather than written, students may find it difficult lớn understand what is required và they become confused. When you are dealing with a complex subject, you need khổng lồ tease out the issues for yourself first & focus each question on one idea only. It also helps khổng lồ use direct, concrete language và as few words as possible.

Asking difficult questions without building up khổng lồ them: This happens when there isn’t a planned sequence of questions of increasing difficulty. Sequencing questions is necessary lớn help students to lớn move lớn the higher levels of thinking.

Asking superficial questions: It is possible to lớn ask lots of questions but not get to the center of the issue. You can avoid this problem by planning probing questions in advance. They can often be built in as follow-up questions lớn extend an answer.

Asking a question then answering it yourself: What’s the point? This pitfall is often linked khổng lồ another problem: not giving students time lớn think before they answer. Build in ‘wait time’ khổng lồ give students a chance to lớn respond. You could say ‘Think about your answer for 3 seconds, then I will ask.’ You could also provide prompts khổng lồ help.

Asking bogus ‘guess what’s in my head’ questions: Sometimes teachers ask an xuất hiện question but expect a closed response. If you have a very clear idea of the response you want, it is probably better lớn tell students by explaining it khổng lồ them rather than trying to get there through this kind of questioning. Remember, if you ask mở cửa questions you must expect to get a range of answers. Acknowledge all responses. This can easily be done by saying ‘thank you’.

Focusing on a small number of students and not involving the whole class: One way of avoiding this is lớn get the whole class khổng lồ write their answers to closed questions & then show them to lớn you together. Some teachers use small whiteboards for this. Another possibility, which may be more effective for more mở cửa questions, is khổng lồ use the ‘no-hands’ strategy, where you pick the respondent rather than having them volunteer. One advantage of this is that you can ask students questions of appropriate levels of difficulty. This is a good way of differentiating khổng lồ ensure inclusion.

Dealing ineffectively with wrong answers or misconceptions: Teachers sometimes worry that they risk damaging students’ self-esteem by correcting them. There are ways of handling this positively, such as providing prompts và scaffolds khổng lồ help students correct their mistakes. It is important that you correct errors sensitively or, better still, get other students lớn correct them.

Xem thêm: " Bloody Hell Là Gì - Bloody Hell In Vietnamese Translation

Not treating students’ answers seriously: Sometimes teachers simply ignore answers that are a bit off-beam. They can also fail to see the implications of these answers & miss opportunities to lớn build on them. You could ask students why they have given that answer or if there is anything they would lượt thích to add. You could also ask other students to lớn extend the answer. It is important not to lớn cut students off & move on too quickly if they have given a wrong answer.

Practical tips

Be clear about why you are asking the questions. Make sure they will vì what you want them to do.Plan sequences of questions that make increasingly challenging cognitive demands on students.Give students time khổng lồ answer & provide prompts khổng lồ help them if necessary. Ask conscripts rather than volunteers to answer questions


Look again at the danh mục of pitfalls & think about your own teaching. Which of these traps have you fallen into during recent lessons?How might you have avoided them?

Additional Resources

100 questions that promote Mathematical Discourse- tải về Printable Version for quick reference


ORBIT: The mở cửa Resource ngân hàng for Interactive Teaching, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education. Retrieved from và (CC BY NC SA)

LEARNx Deep Learning through Transformative Pedagogy (2017). University of Queensland, australia (CC BY NC SA)