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What makes questioning effective?

Top 10 tips

Participation, interest and effective thinking and learning are


affected by the questions that both teachers and their pupils ask.
The quality of classroom questioning and its effectiveness can be
improved in a number of ways:

• Prepare key questions to ask;

• Ask fewer and better questions;

• Use appropriate language and content;

• Distribute questions around the class;

• Give pupils “thinking time” to respond to questions, and


pause between them;

• Use questions to make progressive cognitive demands;

• Prompt pupils, give cues;

• Use pupils’ responses ~ even incorrect ones;

• Encourage pupils to ask questions;

• Listen, and acknowledge pupils’ responses positively.

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Miscellaneous thoughts…………..

Be clear about your learning intentions – link your key questions
directly to them.
Plan a few key questions to use in the lesson – keep to a maximum of four.
Embed the key questions early in the lesson – so that they become a
focus for the recall of learning
Ask fewer questions – two or three well thought out questions are worth
ten off the top of the head,
Ask better questions – balance the use of open and closed questions.
Use questions to probe and extend thinking – avoid using those that
require only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.

Try to increase the number of questions you use that offer a


productive challenge to pupils’ learning – try and build into the plan for
each lesson at least three higher order questions. ()
Use recall questions sparingly – avoid starting every lesson with recall
questions, limit the number of recall questions at the start of a lesson to 3
or 4, and keep your own contributions (such as comments on answers) as
brief as possible. Develop alternatives.

Position yourself carefully when questioning – how evenly can


distribute your questions from where you are standing?

Vary the ways in which you want pupils to respond to your


questions – give everyone a chance to contribute their ideas – engagement techniques

All pupils need thinking time – regardless of ability.

Ensure you allow thinking time before you expect an answer – all
pupils need at least three to four seconds to process their response.

Allow thinking time after the answer is given – so that more thoughtful
responses are encouraged.
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Planning questions – Something for SoW development(Bloom’s taxonomy)

You might not agree with the framework below but you can use the framework to
structure your approach to questioning to make increasing cognitive demands.
An effective questioning strategy is to move from the ‘What’ and ‘How’ descriptive
question to ‘Why?’ and ‘What for?’.

Lower order Higher order


1. Recall / Knowledge 4. Analysis
Asking pupils to remember Asking pupils to break down subject
information they have previously matter into its parts, study the
learned, e.g. nature of its parts and their
“Who was…?” relationships one with another, e.g.
“What is…?” “What evidence can you find …?”
“Where is…?” “What are the features of…?”
“When is …?” “What information will you need…?”
“Can you list three…?” “What might this mean?”
“How would you describe…?” “What conclusions can you draw?”

2. Comprehension 5. Synthesis
Asking pupils to express ideas in Asking pupils to build a new idea, or
their own words or to interpret theory, plan, experiment or forecast
major elements in texts to using sophisticated thinking, e.g.
make them more accessible, e.g. “Could you design something to…?”
“What do we mean by…?” “How could we solve…?”
“Can you explain what is happening?” “What do think is likely to…?”
“Can you think of…?” “How would you test…?”
“What can you say about…? “Suppose you could …what would you
“Which is the best answer?" do?”

3. Application 6. Evaluation
Asking the pupils to understand a Asking pupils to assess or judge, e.g.
general principle and to apply it in a “What do you think about…?”
new situation e.g., “How effective was that…?”
“How would you use…?” “Can you say which is better and
“What other examples can you find why…?”
to…?” “How would you prove / disprove…?”
“What would happen if…?” “What is your opinion of…?”
“What other way would you plan to…? “Why did they (the character)
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“What facts would you select to choose to….?”
show..?”

Simple improved questioning – prompts for


class display

Why would we want to know that?

What are the alternatives?

Could you tell me more about…?

How can we prioritise?

Is that always so?

What would we like to find out?

Is there another way/ reason/ idea?

Where is there another example of this?

Would you summarise …. Please?

What would we have done had we been


there?

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Avoiding recall questions at the beginning of a lesson

Question Answer
Only on a
Thursday morning
and not then if it
can be helped.
In a locker in the
staffroom marked
‘C. Franks’
The Sunni triangle
north of Baghdad
In my opinion you
are incorrect. Men
have a number of
useful functions
including…….
A group described
as the
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creationists.

Cross-curricular activities

Question Responses
What is the purpose of
questioning?

Why do some students not


participate in Q and A
sessions?
How do you deal with
incorrect answers?

What are the barriers to


students asking questions?

How do you promote


listening skills?

What is the maximum


number of questions you’d
use at the start of a
lesson?
Should questions at the
beginning of a lesson differ
from those at the end?
How do you deal with
students who have poor

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auditory sequential
memory?