Questioning as Assessment

by Laura Schoen

Traditional vs. Innovative Questioning Strategies--How can teachers engage all students?


*IRE--teacher initiates, students respond, and teacher evaluates.

*Typically, one student at a time is engaged with the teacher.


*Dr. Spencer Kagan has developed learning structures that engage all students. Why ask only one child to respond when everyone can be engaged?

*Kagan Structure--Rally Robin --The teacher asks a question (What do you know about the solar system?) Students work with a partner and take turns listing items.

*Kagan Structure--Pair and Share --The teacher asks a question (What do you think the character will do next?) Students work with a partner, and each one shares a response and provides feedback (Kagan, A-Brief-History-of-Kagan-Structures).

Levels of Questioning--How can teachers help students think at higher levels?

*Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation

*Develop questions at varying levels according to students' needs.

*Prepare a list of questions pertaining to a topic prior to the lesson to ensure various levels of learning are addressed.

* "As Common Core State Standards focus on increasingly complex thinking and achievement goals, related assessments must follow" (Afflerbach, p. 56).

Different Perspectives on Questioning--How can students demonstrate understanding of content?

Things to Remember

* "Students benefit from a mixture of spontaneous and planned questions. The talented teacher approaches reading assessment with ideas for both" (Afflerbach, p. 62).

*Provide ample wait time for students to think and respond. Wait time varies according to students' needs.

*Plan ahead. By utilizing a variety of questioning strategies, "students learn that what they read is often worthy of investigation and challenge" (p. 68).


Afflerbach, P. (2012). Understanding and using reading assessment, K-12 (2nd ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Kagan, S. A Brief History of Kagan Structures. CA: Kagan Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine, Spring 2003.