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Questioning Techniques

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Questioning Techniques

Post by Lil Miss Sunshine on Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:50 pm

Originally posted by Hufflepup

This makes really interesting reading and is useful too
Questions fall into two main categories: lower-order questions which require children to remember, and higher-order questions, which require them to think (typically only 4% of questions in an average lesson are higher order).
Develop pupils’ thinking skills by starting questions with words such as how, why or which, or ask open questions – with a range of possible responses.
Use Bloom’s taxonomy to move pupils beyond the stages of simple recall and literal comprehension (see box below).
Who to ask

‘Think, pair, share’ Ask a question but then allow individual thinking time, discussion with a partner, and then open up for class discussion.
Survey the class by using individual whiteboards or a simple voting system such as ‘green peppers, red tomatoes’, thereby prompting a response from every pupil in the class.
Allow pupils to nominate the next pupil to answer a question or offer a response.
Ask pupils in groups to come up with a list of questions themselves, which another group in the class will provide the answers for.
Ask pupils to work on an exam paper in pairs discussing the answers as they work. The discussion prompted will lead to more memorable learning than if you were to lead test feedback.
Explain the difference between higher- and lower-order questions to pupils themselves and ask them to come up with some higher-order questions which you can use at the start of the next lesson.
It’s fine to direct questions at individuals for a variety of reasons (as a behaviour management tool, to focus individuals, to get an answer you want other pupils to hear from a specific pupil) but be wary of asking the same pupils all the time.
Applying knowledge

Can you explain why/how/which...?
What would you have done...?
What do you think will happen/would have happened next...?
What makes you think...?
What would you use for...?

Analysing understanding

How would you group/sort/ categorise/classify?
Can you work out the parts/features/structure of...?
How can you show the differences/ similarities of...?
What patterns can you find...?
What evidence can you find to...?

Synthesising thinking

Can you think of a better way to...?
What would you have done if...?
How would you tackle this next time…?
How would you change/adapt to make a new...?
Given the choice, what would you do...?
Evaluating

How successful was...?
How would you rate...?
What do you think of...?
What makes ... good/bad/average?


How to ask

Ask ‘follow-ups’: ‘Why?’ ‘Do you agree?’ ‘Can you elaborate?’ ‘Tell me more?’ ‘Can you give an example?’
Ask for a summary to promote active listening. You could nominate a pupil at the start of the lesson to lead the plenary at the end.
Play devil’s advocate by asking pupils to define their reasoning against different points of view.
Weight your questions with ‘points’ throughout the lesson which pupils can accrue and turn into house points or commendations. Higher-order questions earn more points than lower-order ones.
Put key questions up on the board at the start of the lesson/module for pupils to find the answers to as the lesson progresses.
When to ask

A US study, conducted in New York in 1978 by Mary Budd Rowe, found that increasing the wait time improved the number and quality of the responses. For a lower-order question, three seconds is the optimum wait time, while waiting for more than 10 seconds produces even better results with higher-order questions.
Extend the wait time between your pupil giving the answer and you commenting on it (typically fractions of a second). It allows pupils to revise or expand their response, and encourages others to contribute.
More able pupils respond well if you pose questions at the beginning of a topic/task before seeing the relevant material. They then use the questions to focus their learning.
Alternatively ask a question at the end of a lesson for pupils to mull over and use their response at the beginning of the next lesson as the way into learning.
Conclusions
Your questioning skills can be developed with a little effort and personal reflection. Arrive at lessons having already thought of higher-order questions you might ask, how to ask them and who you are going to ask them of. Ask for help from a colleague in analysing your questioning techniques.

This article first appeared in Raising Achievement Update - Sep 2007

Lil Miss Sunshine
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