As a Teaching Tool
An Expert Opinion
"Good learning starts with
questions, not answers."
Guy Claxton, Professor in Education and
Director of CLIO Development
University of Bristol
Not a new idea!
Ø ‘Teaching is the art of asking questions.’
the middle of difficulty lies
opportunity. The important thing is not
to stop questioning.’
The Statistics of Questioning
Ø An average teacher asks 400 questions in
Ø That’s 70,000 a year!
Ø One-third of all teaching time is spent
Ø Most questions are answered in less than
TES 4 July 2003
Type of questions
Ø Q: Is 7 a prime number?
Ø A: Yes.
Ø The answer is correct, but has the student
Ø Q: Why?
Ø A: Because it’s odd.
Ø The follow-up question reveals clear failures
in understanding underlying concepts.
Ø Can it be, Ischomachus, that asking
questions is teaching? I am just
beginning to see what is behind all
your questions. You lead me on by
means of things I know, point to
things that resemble them, and
persuade me that I know things that
I thought I had no knowledge of.
Socrates (Quoted in Xenophon's "Economics")
Categories of Socratic Questioning
Ø Questions of clarification
Ø Questions that probe assumptions
Ø Questions that probe reasons and
Ø Questionsthat probe implications and
Ø Quantity questions
Ø Change questions
Ø Prediction questions
Ø Points of view questions
Ø Personal involvement questions
Ø Comparative association questions
Ø Valuing questions
Example – Touching the Void
Ø Try out a ‘quantity’ or ‘change’ question.
Ø Try a question from one of the other
Ø Evaluate the effectiveness of this
model in promoting learning.
Ø Consider how this type of questioning
might be used in your own curriculum
Ø Knowledge – describe, identify, who,
Ø Comprehension – translate, predict, why
Ø Application – demonstrate how, solve,
try it in a new context
Ø Analysis – explain, infer, analysis
Ø Synthesis – design, create, compose
Ø Evaluation – assess, compare/contrast,
Bloom’s Questions - Examples
Ø Who fought the Battle of Hastings?
Ø Why did Harold lose the battle?
Ø Demonstrate (diagrammatically) how the
battle was lost.
Ø Explain the events leading up to the battle.
Ø Write a report of the battle from the
viewpoint of a witness.
Ø Assess the impact of the battle on
subsequent English history.
Checklist for using Questioning
Ø Plan for questioning.
Ø Allow time for answers.
Ø Ask a range of questions which
consolidate knowledge, develop
understanding and promote higher order
thinking and creativity.
Ø Use questions to develop collaborative
Ø Review questions.