Effective Questioning?

How Can Teachers Ask Better Questions?

The Art of The Question

Why Ask Questions?

Asking questions seems like such a simple task, after all research shows instructors typically spend 35 to 50% of their instructional time asking questions. Asking questions is perhaps the MOST POWERFUL tool we as instructors have in our toolbox. A good question asked at the right time may excite, disturb, comfort, inspire students to new heights. Asking questions serves as the foundation of the skillful instructor. Questioning in one of the nine research based strategies in Classroom Instruction That Works (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock 2001).

Strong Questions Can:

  • Motivate
  • Foster intellectual development
  • Stimulate
  • Assess
  • Guide
  • Shape
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How To Improve Your Question Asking Practices:

  • Perform a Question Asking Audit: Research shows 90% of instructor questions focus on low levels of knowledge (memorization/recall). Therefore, perform your own audit - assess yourself on the kinds of questions you tend to ask. How To Do This: 1. Ask your instructional coach to observe your class & document your questions or 2. Videotape your own class & review it yourself whichever choice you make then sit down ad categorize the questions according to Bloom's or DOK. Use results to evaluate and balance your questions.Continue to audit, you can measure/assess your own growth.

Develop Your Question Asking Style

Know the" WANT" of What You Want Your Question To Ask:

  • Possible wants:
  1. Create a break/transition
  2. Invite student participation
  3. Encourage interactivity
  4. Heighten student engagement
  5. Regulate the mood


Avoid the "are there any questions?" Be specific, purposeful in order to elicit responses.

Think Time (AKA Wait Time) is Important:

Research, research, research says wait at least 5 seconds. According to Columbia University, teachrs who wait at least 5 seconds show students lengthened their responses, backed up their claims, and became more peer directed.

What Do I Need To Do?

  • Plan accordingly, select important rather than trivial concepts/content
  • Decide goal/purpose of questions
  • Phrase questions with clarity
  • Phrase questions that do not contain answers
  • Anticipate student responses
  • Be ready to redirect, rephrase, wait (at least 5 seconds)
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