Effective Questioning

Much is said about the benefits of good questioning techniques in class.   Sometimes it can be tricky to instantly convert questions to become more effective (ie a more open/higher category).  But it's important to be able to use questioning for a variety of purposes throughout the lesson – to check prior knowledge; check understanding; to differentiate between stronger and weaker learners; to follow up on what a learner has said; to feed back from group activities; to test knowledge.

It is widely acknowledged that questioning to assess learning is underdeveloped in some observed lessons.  We know we need to do it, but how can we avoid emotive and leading questions?  And how can we ensure that everyone participates?

Here are a few answers to those questions:

  • make questioning into an activity to be enjoyed, not tolerated
  • have a list of prepared questions before you go into class
  • don't stick to individual questioning, use groups for collaboration
  • ensure that everyone is asked a question at some stage, even the shy ones
  • allow responses to be submitted in writing occasionally (reasonable adjustment)
  • pause to allow thinking time

It's easier to engage learners if you phrase your questions to prompt  more than a one word response.  This also paves the way for extension questions to draw out and analyse.

You could use a Chatterbox for a questioning activity, don't forget that you can download an editable template from Resources here on the website.  Even though you are probably working with older teenagers you'd be surprised how much they enjoy this activity.

And finally, here's a link to a booklet 12 questions that minimise classroom management problems which I saw on Twitter. Don't forget to also look at the resources on Geoff Petty's website www.geoffpetty.com.
PS (If you'd like to arrange staff CPD to brush up techniques for constructing more effective versions of questions to assess learning in class,  book me for in-house sessions during your staff development days.)