George Lucas Educational Foundation

Quality Questioning

Quality Questioning

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Quality Questioning.

What does this mean to you?
In the span of 30 minutes, how many question do you ask your students?
A what level are these questions? How many questions do your students ask you?
Do you allow students to question each other?
Do your questions spark interest or other questions?
How do you handle an incorrect question?
Do only a handful of students answer your question?

What do you think?

Sherry (food for thought)

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Gary Page's picture

Hello Sherry, I'd like to say first that I really like your questions, they are interesting and ultimately stimulating for improving quality instruction. To start to answer, in the span of 30 minutes as you as asked, I usually ask from 8 to 10 questions within that time frame. My questions are usually derived from material that has just recently been read and discussed. To stay focused on this task, of course requires that me as the teacher keep a close/quick glance on every student while doing this and make sure that they are paying attention. The questions that I ask are indeed on their level, which is grade 5; however, I often implement the use of finding a different way to ask the question, which is by far very necessary in terms of reaching a student who may not understand. My concern about how many students that my students ask 'me' on the other hand is rather high, on the grounds that I sometimes do not know if they're "not" asking because they are shy and too afraid to speak out, or that they truly do understand my lectures.

Unfortunately, I purposely do not allow my students to ask each other questions because it ignites their behavior, and they tend to use every opportunity to 'talk' to their advantage, and by 'advantage', I don't mean one that contributes to their education. :-)

My questions sometimes spark interest, but only if I'm practicing the use of humor and activites to make the particular objective more interesting. I handle incorrect questions by first asking myself is the question truly 'incorrect', or that the question itself my be the child's way of expressing (or even pin-pointing) their area of weakness for the lesson being taught; so I've found it beneficial to listen very closely to whatever question they are asking, and mentally thinking (even as they ask) of the key words in that question in an effort to respond with an answer that will make the child better understand.

Yes, there are usually the same group of students who actually raise their hands to answer a question, but that's the primary reason why I draft students who are 'not' raising their hands. I've found that eventually they realize that they may as well know the material, as i AM going to call of them anyway.

Sherry_K's picture


I fine it interesting that you don't allow you students to discuss the question/answer. I allow this because they learn when they become the teacher, when they are explaining an answer to their peers. Of course there are the times when I have to put them back on task but this is rare. They really get into "one upping" each other. They want to be the one giving the best answer.

We as teachers often think we aren't asking that many questions. I read that most teachers ask about 15 or more questions in a 30 minutes time frame, but that teachers don't realize that. Teachers were asked to have a normal lesson and to record themselves to get the results. Some were amazed at the number of questions they were asking and how few the students were asking, 1.8 per class time. It is hard to learn when getting rapid fire questions. I found this quite interesting.

Also are the questions we are asking taking students to a higher order of thinking? I know that mine are not, at least not all the time. This is something that I have to work at.

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