|Cues for Effective Questioning
Ways to Engage, Enhance, and Extend Student
- Ask open-ended questions
Reword questions to eliminate yes/no responses.
- Develop questions carefully
A few, "higher-order" questions are more
productive than a lot of "lower-order" questions.
- Use precise language
This enables students to associate specific language
with thinking processes and cues student responses.
- Practice "wait-time"
Provide 3-5 seconds of silence after a question and after a response.
- Call on students randomly
- Acknowledge all responses
Passive (i.e., a nod) and active (i.e., paraphrasing) acceptance
demonstrates that a response is valued.
- Withhold criticism
Respond to student answers non-judgmentally.
- Paraphrase more often than praise
This communicates that you’ve heard and that
you understand. Doesn’t encourage conformity.
When used, give criteria.
- Rephrase rather than repeat
When students don’t understand, rephrase
own question. Ask students to rephrase response
when clarification is needed.
- Ask students to "think
Provide opportunities for reflection and for "thinking
- Plan for productive interaction
"Think-pair-share" and small group cooperative learning encourage
thoughtful student-student interaction.
- Encourage question-asking
Provide opportunities for students to develop own questions.
- Thinking skills improve with practice
processes are developmental, so hang in there!
for a Range of Thinking
Examples of Questioning for Specific Types of Thinking
- Knowledge: remembering, reciting, recognizing
Who/what/when/where is _______?
What do you remember
- Comprehension: understanding, translating, estimating
_____, what would you predict?
What is meant by
- Creative thinking:
elaborating, taking another point of view, brainstorming
what other ways can you _____?
What details can
you add to ________?
- Application: using,
How can you solve this (similar
How could you use ______?
- Analysis: comparing
and contrasting, inferring, attribute listing
is this _____ like/different from this ______?
are the characteristics of _____?
- Synthesis: hypothesizing,
How would you create a ______?
What plan can you
develop for solving _____?
- Evaluation: justifying,
rating, judging using criteria
would you use to ______?
Why do you agree/disagree
Adapted from Benjamin Bloom and Donald Treffinger
Examples of "Generic" Questioning
- Questions calling for variety
What are some different ways you could _____?
What else might happen if _____?
- Questions calling for clarification or extension
What do you mean when _____?
How is your description
different from _____?
- Questions calling
for reasons or support
Why do you think that is true for all _____?
makes you think so?
- Questions asking students to focus on the task at
What do you think might happen as a result of this
(already discussed aspect)?
What would you do in this _____?
Adapted from Hilda Taba
Questioning Within, Among,
and Beyond Strategies and Lesson Types
of Questioning to Build, Bridge, and Transfer
Following early skill development in the "problem
solving thinking phases", questions can be
posed to help students…
- build skill within
a specific thinking phase(s), strategy or Lesson
Type so that the purpose, characteristics,
and applications are fully understood.
- How can you decide what information should be included in the headings
when making a table?
- How did looking back at this problem assist you
in discovering alternative solutions?
- Why was it helpful to solve this problem in a small
- bridge or identify
the connections among the attributes of problems,
two or more strategies,
- How is the organized list strategy different from the make-a-table
- What is it about this problem that reminds
you of yesterday’s problem? What do these characteristics
tell us about strategies we might use with today’s
- How did your group improve upon the social skill
that was introduced yesterday?
- transfer their learning about
one or more thinking processes, problems, or strategies
to other academic
or real-life situations.
- In what real-life situations would drawing a picture be helpful?
- What can we learn from our desire to jump into solving
a problem that will help us in other subject areas?
Questions that build, bridge, or transfer may
be appropriate in any of the "problem solving
thinking phases" as well as in whole group "debriefing".
This material excerpted with permission from "Cues
for Effective Questioning", by Cathy J. Cook
and Claudette M. Rasmussen, June, 1989, NCREL.
For a copy of the full text, which includes "Questioning
to Develop Mathematical Power" and "Questioning
for Critical Thinking in Mathematical Problem Solving," contact
Cathy Cook at 630.571.4700