Questioning techniques for teachers

4 mins read
Tara Walsh

Questioning is a flexible tool and one that opens up opportunities for students to discuss and debate. It encourages them to express their opinions and share alternative points of view. It’s a valuable teaching strategy for all educators.

When designing questions, educators need to first determine the purpose, and then consider the most appropriate question types for that purpose. Educators need to design questions for higher cognitive abilities, develop questions in a logical sequence, increase wait time to allow students to develop thoughtful responses, and respond appropriately to answers with reinforcement and probing.

Why is questioning a valuable teaching strategy?

  • It yields immediate feedback on student understanding and helps to track progress. One way you can use this in class is as an ‘exit’ card, where students are asked a question on their way out of class, testing their understanding of the lesson content.
  • It supports informal and formative assessment. It’s a useful way to get a quick gauge of understanding of an individual, small group or a whole class.
  • It captures feedback on the effectiveness of classroom teaching. If students have difficulty answering your questions on a particular topic, this may indicate the need for adjustments to your teaching practice.

Questioning can help engage students in learning by:

  • Stimulating their interest and curiosity. It can open up possibilities beyond students’ everyday thinking to have them consider ‘What if?’
  • Making authentic links to their lives. Questions such as ‘Can you think of an example that relates to your experience?’ or ‘What would you do if something like this happened to you?’ encourage students to place themselves in a new situation, looking at a situation or issue with a different perspective.

Key features of effective questioning

Pre-plan effective questions

There are many reasons to use questioning, with specific types of questions better suited to certain learning activities and goals. For this reason, it’s essential to pre-plan your questions, using open-ended options to help extend thinking. Consider the purpose of your questions. Are they to encourage reflection, engage students, revise content or challenge opinions?

Provide appropriate feedback

It’s your role as the educator to also provide appropriate feedback to students. This feedback encourages deep thinking and supports students to generate questions for further inquiry.

Establish a respectful classroom

It’s also vital to establish a respectful and trusting learning classroom environment to encourage students to contribute to class discussion or respond to questions. Students need to be taught how to have a respectful discussion or debate, so it’s up to you to set up classroom expectations to help students respect the opinions of others.

How ClickView can help with questioning

  • Use results and data from interactive videos to help guide your questioning and discussion in class. Always consider the purpose of your questioning for a particular activity.
  • Allow your students to ask questions in interactive short answers, rather than orally in front of a group. This format helps encourage less confident students to ask their questions.
  • Use interactive question options to prompt discussion. For example, use short answer and image card to compare and contrast.


Teaching Strategies Questioning

6 Teacher tips for questioning techniques

  1. Use contemporary content
    Use clips from ClickView TV to find current content to engage students and drive discussion and thinking.
  2. Explore historical content
    Incorporate historical or modern video content as stimulus material to initiate class discussion.
  3. Design different kinds of questions
    There are many different types of questions that meet different cognitive demands. Higher cognitive questions can be open-ended, inquiry-based or interpretative. Lower cognitive questions will likely be more factually driven or recall-based. Even in subjects such as Science or Maths, there is scope to ask more inquiry-based and open-ended questions. Explore our educational resources for ideas.
  4. Ask questions in a sequence
    Questions should be designed to make increasingly challenging cognitive demands on students in classes or lectures. A question sequence should include a combination of closed questions, to establish core material, and open questions to extend and transform this material to deepen understanding. This type of questioning is ideal for formative assessment or to track learning through a unit. Layer different question types on to any video to transform it into an interactive experience.
  5. Wait after posing a question
    By increasing the wait time after questioning, educators can improve both the number and quality of responses. A pause after the question gives more students the opportunity to participate, such as in the instance of a worked example. Pausing or allowing some time for written reflection, can allow students to extend their thinking beyond their first answer or take the time they need to respond.
  6. Consider how you respond to answers
    Educators can respond to student answers using redirection, probing and reinforcement. A positive response to any answer is important, with a subsequent extension of the response through follow on questions, or a redirection for incorrect or inappropriate answers. Need more advice on giving feedback to your students?

Use effective questioning in the classroom to achieve optimal learning outcomes

A ClickView subscription includes full access to 1000s of curriculum-aligned videos, including educational resources such as lesson plans and downloadable worksheets. As well as our library, you can access plenty of free training resources to help you maximise your use of ClickView in the classroom. We’re here to help you with ideas for effective questioning strategies to achieve optimum learning outcomes for your classes.