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9.1: Questioning Techniques

  • Page ID
    87516
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    Authors: FACULTY OF EDUCATION AND UQX LEARNX TEAM OF CONTRIBUTORS, THE OPEN RESOURCE BANK FOR INTERACTIVE TEACHING, AND UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

    questioning

    Introduction

    The interaction between teacher and learners is the most important feature of the classroom. Whether helping learners to acquire basic skills or a better understanding to solve problems, or to engage in higher-order thinking such as evaluation, questions are crucial. Of course, questions may be asked by students as well as teachers: they are essential tools for both teaching and learning.

    For teachers, questioning is a key skill that anyone can learn to use well. Similarly, ways of helping students develop their own ability to raise and formulate questions can also be learned. Raising questions and knowing the right question to ask is an important learning skill that students need to be taught.

    Research into questioning has given some clear pointers as to what works. These can provide the basis of improving classroom practice. A very common problem identified by the research is that students are frequently not provided with enough ‘wait time’ to consider an answer; another is that teachers tend to ask too many of the same type of questions. (Adapted from Types Of Question, section Intro). (ORBIT)


    Questioning Techniques

    In 1940, Stephen Corey analyzed verbatim transcripts of classroom talk for one week across six different classes. His intent was to interrogate what the talk revealed about the learners’ increase in understanding. He wrote, however, that “the study was not successful for the simple reason that during the five class days involved the pupils did not talk enough to give any evidence of mental development; the teachers talked two-thirds of the time” (p. 746). The research focus thus shifted to patterns of questioning.

    Findings included:

    • For every student query, teachers asked approximately 11 questions
    • Students averaged less than one question each, while teachers averaged more than 200 questions each
    • Teachers often answered their own questions
    • Fewer teacher questions requires deep thinking by the learner

    Much has changed since 1940 – except, it seems, these patterns. Classroom discourse continues to be dominated by the ‘recitation script’: teachers asking known-answer questions (Howe & Abedin, 2013) that limit opportunities for learners to experience cognitive challenge, thereby inhibiting effective learning (Alexander, 2008).

    Effective questioning techniques are critical to learner engagement and are a key strategy for supporting students to engage thoughtfully and critically with more complex concepts and ideas

    (UQx:LEARNx Deep Learning Through Transformative Pedagogy


    9.1: Questioning Techniques is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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