Questioning - The Art of Questioning in Classroom

Questioning - The Art of Questioning in Classroom

14650 views | Sandy | 16-06-2021

Questioning is the basis of a teaching task. All teaching and learning lie in the art of questioning. Questioning deepens the process of learning and promotes imagination and problem-solving. It satisfies curiosity and helps increase creativity in a learning environment.

Subject-wise questioning is critical to support meaningful discussions. Teachers use questioning to help students work together and make sense of the subject being taught, help learners rely more on themselves to determine whether something is correct and help students to conjecture, invent and solve problems. Moreover, questions serve to stimulate students’ interest and increase motivation for learning. Teachers can then prepare learners to pose thought-provoking questions and seek answers by using meaningful questions and discussions. 

Classroom teaching practices must be planned smartly. They include questioning which is a critical indicator of teacher effectiveness. When questioning, teachers should focus on posing open-ended questions that allow learners to reflect and respond. Questions must be prepared in advance and later tweaked according to the situation to ensure they serve the purpose, are meaningful and aligned with the instructional goals for the lesson. 

Language, delivery of questioning and the clarity of the questions asked is also important. Students need to be able to understand and translate the questions in their own words to show how well they understood the purpose of the question. When asking questions teachers should bear in mind the diversity of learners in the classroom. For example, if second language learners are learning English they should be able to break down words and understand the meaning attached to them. The choice of words and pace of asking questions affects learners’ engagement level. When pressing questions, content-specific vocabulary shall be used with open-ended questions to communicate high expectations for all learners. 

Moreover, the wait time to get responses to your questions must also be adjusted as per audience preference. After posing questions to students, giving them a certain period to reflect on the answer is advised. It is also critical to give the instructor a chance to measure students’ understanding. If they respond immediately, it may stop chances of reflection, critical thinking and further questioning. When listening to responses, teachers must not look for the right answer immediately but learn more about learners’ responses and perspectives by giving them a chance to elaborate on their ideas and support evidence. If a student does not answer the question completely the teacher may ask further questions for clarification; to learn more about learners’ perspectives and think of ways to make corrections smoothly. 

Hinge point questions

Hinge questioning is diagnostic questioning used at the point in a lesson known as a ‘hinge’ where you need to check if your learners are ready to move on or not. They are used during the learning to check to understand the key areas and concepts so the teacher can reflect on and decide the next steps. All students can easily respond to these questions in less than a minute ideally and teachers can realistically view and interpret student responses in 30 seconds. To increase the level of challenge, multiple correct answers are included and the incorrect distractor answers have been purposefully included as options related to alternative concepts applicable at a later stage. These questions are structured so that learners cannot spot the right or wrong answers.

Inclusive questioning

Inclusive questioning enables learners to achieve great targets with expertise in knowledge and skills management.

Key aspects of inclusive questioning are asking good questions. Each question type needs to be directed to students based on our knowledge and understanding of the students and the situation at hand. Moreover, inclusive questioning must also provide peer support. Whether it is ‘think-pair-share, ‘jig-saw or any other cooperative learning activity giving students the chance to talk with their peers and provide support to students to give answers to include others in the feedback process. 

Using the ABC feedback model i.e. asking students to Agree with; Build upon or Challenge the answers of other students allows them to build upon the responses of others and helps scaffold ideas. Selecting the right learners based on the level of challenge and options where ‘agree with’ is the easiest response. Some students can build upon and challenge previous responses and bouncing these questions exemplify differentiated progress. Bouncing questions is better to increase engagement as students know they may be asked to respond further to responses given by other learners. And this continues as a cycle. 

Strategies for classroom 
  • Cold Calling: Cold calling refers to a classroom-style instruction setting where the instructor calls on students to answer questions posed by the instructor regularly. There are three main objectives: 
    • establishing and reinforcing high expectations for student preparation, 
    • providing a developmental opportunity for the student concerning content mastery,
    • critical thinking and communication skills.

 Also, catalyse the discussion and serve as a touchpoint throughout the session. 

For example, An instructor asks the whole class: what are the benefits of engaging learners in classroom discussions?

The teacher then takes a pause and calls out Ben to answer. ‘Ben.. what do you think?’ This strategy works well to keep the class attentive at all times. 

  • Think pair share: As compared to cold call where all learners do not get an equal chance of being picked from the sample, enable everyone to have a chance to think their ideas through, by sharing them with their partners. Since each individual has a share-pair so to effectively carry forward the process there should be a time limit given to the group for discussion with a clear goal in mind. In the end, pairs are also cold-called after their discussions so it is better to rehearse and get ready to share their ideas, no opting out. 
  • Check for understanding: Another technique where teachers sample student understanding after an exchange of ideas, comparing answers and exploring differences. More students brainstorm as the teacher goes into details of the discussion to break down ideas and learning concepts. The strategy is to check, compare and contrast to see if learners can learn in any way from others’ responses. 

These strategies are used interchangeably where everyone is included and connected. Everyone thinks and participates to explore their ideas and look for gaps in understanding. Teachers get feedback from the entire class and their responses increase inclusivity. 

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