Questioning Strategies


Questioning Strategies is an art when teaching your students. The more we learn about teaching, the more we want to ask relevant, thought provoking questions that extend our students' thinking. Through the art of thoughtful questioning teachers can extract not only factual information, but aid learners in: connecting concepts, making inferences, increasing awareness, encouraging creative and imaginative thought, aiding critical thinking processes, and generally helping learners explore deeper levels of knowing, thinking, and understanding what is being learned. 

There are four basic types of questions:


FactualConvergentDivergentEvaluative

As you examine the four types of questions reflect back on your learning as a student and see if you can ascertain which types of questions were used most often by your teachers. Next, reflect on your own teaching to see if you can identify the types of questions you engage your students in.

Factual: Asking simple, straight forward answers based on obvious facts or awareness. These are usually at the lowest level of cognitive or affective processes and answers are frequently either right or wrong.

Example: Who is the main character of this story?


Convergent: Answers to these types of questions are usually within a very finite range of acceptable accurace. These may be at several different levels of cognition-comprehension, application, analysis, or ones where the answerer makes inferences or conjectures based on personal awareness, or on material read, presented or known.

Example: As you reflect on the story Charlotte's Web, why do you feel the spider was so concerned about saving the pig's life?

This is not specifically stated in the text of the story. Here the reader must make simple inferences as to why the spider had concerns for the pig's life.


Divergent: These questions allow students to explore different avenues and create many different variations and alternative answers or scenarios. Correctness may be based on logical projections, may be contextual, or arrived at through basic knowledge, conjecture, inference, projection, creaton, intuition, or imagination. These types of questions often require students to analyze, synthesize or evaluate a knolwedge base and then project or predict different outcomes.

Answering divergent questions may be aided by higher levels of learning. Answers to these types of qustions generally fall into a wide range of acceptability. Often correctness is determined subjectively based on the possibility or probability. Frequently the intentions of these types of divergent questions is to stimulate imaginative and creative thought, or investigate cause and effect relationships, or provoke deeper thought and extensive investigations. And, one needs to be prepared for the fact that there may not be right or difinitely correct answers to these questions.

Divergent questions may also serve as larger contexts for directing inquiry learning, and may form 'essential' questions that frame the content of what is being learned.


Example: In the story Charlotte's Web, what might have happened if Wilbur never met Charlotte?

Example of essential and divergent: Like many authors, E.B. White uses animals to tell stories that are tied to great emotions and the loss of life. Why are animals used as main characters in this format instead of humans? What is the appeal of having animals in these situations rather than humans?


Evaluative: These types of questions usually require sophisticated levels of cognitive and/or emotional judgement. In attempting to answer evaluative questions, students may be combining multiple logical and/or affective thinking process, or comparative frameworks. Often an answer is analyzed at multiple levels and from different perspectives before the answerer arrives at newly synthesized information or conlcusions.

Example: In Charlotte's Web, what are the similarities and differences between the farm in this story and a farm you might visit in today's times?



The key to good questioning is to plan for the questions that you plan to ask your students with all lessons. Low level questions are appropriate at times. However, to get the most from students at all performance levels in their learning and to help them make strong connections, higher level questioning should be engaged. Questions that can be answered with 'Yes' or 'No' are not productive and encourage non-thinking, non-engagement from students while you teach.


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Unknown user,
Jul 31, 2012, 4:54 AM