The Tutors Guide to Effective Questions
Questions are a staple used by teachers to assess students’ knowledge, understand their comprehension and stimulate critical thinking. Well-made questions lead to new insights, generate discussion and promote exploration of the subject. Whereas, poorly made questions can actually stifle students’ learning by creating an air of confusion, limiting creative thinking and can even go as far as intimidating students. Teachers often ask questions that require the student to recall their knowledge in a factual way, rather than asking questions that promote deeper thinking. Which requires students to analyse and evaluate concepts.
So we’re going to go through some strategies that help effective questioning. As well as some examples of low and high questions. These can be applied in the classroom and in other learning environments where you cab find information about such things like the best exercise bike with screen.
Teachers ask questions to help students uncover what has been learnt and explore the subject matter in more detail. Effective questions asked can support students learning by probing for understanding, encouraging creativity, stimulating critical thinking and enhancing confidence. There are two types of questions, higher-order and lower-order. Higher-order questions elicit deeper and more critical thinking, teachers are encouraged to ask these questions. Rather than the lower-order questions. That, however, doesn’t mean lower-order questions shouldn’t be asked. There should be a balance between them both.
We’ve seen that degree and professional degree qualifications use higher-order questions as they stimulate deeper thinking and that’s what you need in a higher education course. However, we can see that in classroom-based observations, teachers frequently use lower-order questions, which only insight into a factual response. So, how do we use better questions and questioning?
Questions can be classified in multiple ways, and how describe their fundamental purpose. The purpose of these questions can be used by teachers to formulate their own questions to get a specific response from the learners. There is a basic way to refer to them as closed and open questions.
A closed question is intended to incite a specific response or from a short list of possible responses. For example, a yes or no question or a question with a specific answer or one correct question. Whereas an open question is intended to elicit a wide range of responses that often require the learner to elaborate. As they don’t have a single best response. They’re used to stimulate conversation and explore the topic and other issues surrounding it.
Another way you can classify questions is to examine their comprehension level or complexity. Questions may address various levels of comprehension. Ranging from facts being memorised to other processes that need critical thinking, with the intent of achieving specific learning outcomes. This is the use of high and low-order questions. Each range in difficulty and level of comprehension.
Here are a few examples of high and low-order questions and the actions they require the student to complete.
Remembering (knowledge) – The student needs to list, name, identify, show, define, recognise, state etc.
Understanding (comprehension) – To summarise, explain, interpret, describe, compare, visualise, put into your own words, etc.
Applying (application) – To solve, illustrate, calculate, use, relate, manipulate, modify, put into practice, etc.
Furthermore, here are a few examples of questions.
- Describe what you see
- What are the most used assessment methods
- What methods of assessment are the most appropriate for you?
Analysing (analysis) -They need to analyse, organise, deduce, choose, contrast, compare and distinguish.
Evaluating (Evaluation) – Additionally, they need to, evaluate, estimate, judge, defend, criticise, and justify.
Creating (synthesis) – Design, hypothesise, support, write, report, discuss, plan, devise, create and construct.
- Analyse what methods of assessment there are
- Justify which role is best for you
- Can you plan which method would be best for you?
Remembering, which is the process of recalling and retelling information is the lowest order of processing information. However, it is used frequently by teachers and educators. Questions are aimed at extracting the understanding and knowledge the students have on the topic. These are questions that ask the learner to provide examples, classify information and summarise information.
Secondly, application questions require your learners to complete a procedure or process, mental or physical to an unfamiliar situation. So can they apply the knowledge they’ve learnt to a particular situation?
Analysis questions require the learner to break down the information into smaller parts and determine what they mean and how they work together. An analysis question may ask your learner to organise elements, distinguish relevant or irrelevant information or deconstruct biases and values.
Evaluation questions require the learner to formulate judgements based on existing criteria. It requires them to critique a piece of work or product given for a problem or examine any inconsistencies in a theory.
Moreover, questions can also be sorted into knowledge sections. These are, factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive.
Factual knowledge includes technical vocabulary used in the sector and details taken from reliable sources of information. These questions often ask learners to recall specific elements and information from a source. Additionally, they address higher thinking. Questions in the factual section can be constructed to demonstrate understanding, prompt analysis or evaluate the work of others.
Conceptual knowledge includes an awareness of the relationship between elements within the sector. Concept questions ask learners to justify an answer based on principles or theories, and also to classify elements into categories.
This knowledge is the ability to use algorithms, techniques or criteria to determine whether they’re appropriate to use. However, procedural questions will ask the learner about already established methods of gathering information or selecting the most appropriate answer to a particular question.
You may have never heard of this knowledge! But metacognitive knowledge is the awareness of one’s own cognitive and thinking process. These questions might ask a learner to articulate a process, complete a certain task or examine personal motivations and values.
It’s extremely important that you know about the different types of questions and knowledge so you can best help your students and ask them the correct questions so they understand what you’re wanting them to talk about in their answers. In another blog, we’re going to go through some strategies for developing questions!