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It’s all about the question

As teachers, we need to ask the right questions. Thinking questions!

Teaching is all about the questions we ask, and the questions we allow our learners to ask and address.

We can promote questioning, or we can ask learners to be quiet and not pose questions in each lesson that we teach.

We should empower our students and learners to take ownership of their learning, to question and think about what they are producing, creating, and developing.

Are you encouraging the development of your own questioning skills?

Asking questions beyond the knowledge and recall band, getting learners to think, analyse, problem solve, evaluate and make informed decisions is very important.

Our lesson activities and tasks should incorporate the 4Cs:

  • Critical thinking

  • Collaboration

  • Communication

  • Creativity

  • Adaptability

Our questions could relate to Bloom or Anderson’s taxonomy or Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Model.

We want to get our students to participate in and apply critical thinking in all they do!

Beginning questions might focus on lower order thinking skills:

  • Remembering

  • Understanding

Webb might suggest getting learners to explore “What is the knowledge?” Expecting students to recall & reproduce information

We then move up to middle order thinking skills, getting learners to think beyond the knowledge and recall level. These questions focus on:

  • Apply

  • Analyse

Webb might suggest getting learners to explore, “How can the knowledge be used?”

Expecting learners to apply basic skills and concepts

The final group are the higher order thinking questions, which focuses on:

  • Evaluate

  • Synthesis

  • Create

Webb would then suggest getting learners to explore, “Why can the knowledge be used?” Encouraging learners to use strategic thinking

And then he would motivate the learners to think further by asking, “How else can the knowledge be used?” Pushing learners to extend their thinking.

Whatever we are teaching we should be asking a range of questions to get the students thinking. We should also be encouraging the learners and students to ask questions as well. Thereby developing their questioning skills.

To assist yourself, as the teacher and educator, in creating and developing the range of questions for your lessons think about possible questions when preparing the lessons.

Begin to include recording one or two questions for each level in your preparation and planning.

These questions can be used as reminders for when you are teaching.

These prepared questions would also build your own ability to create and ask the range of questions in your lessons. As you do this more your own ability in thinking of the questions during teaching will improve.

Develop lesson tasks to get the learners to look at their own work critically.

Begin by getting the students to review what they have written, completed or created.

They should ask:

  • Is it accurate?

  • What could I improve?

  • OR if an answer is incorrect, they could ask, where did I get it right up to? How do I fix or correct it?

Once learners have reviewed their work, they should make the necessary changes or adaptations that they think are necessary.

The following day the learners should go through the content knowledge again, and check what they have learnt.

The should ask themselves:

  • Do I remember what I learnt?

  • If yes, I should quickly revise the work.

  • If no, I should relearn the content or ask for teaching assistance to build understanding of the information.

Learners should also be encouraged to evaluate and reflect on the quality of their work related to other similar tasks they have completed. Deciding how well they have understood the content? How accurately have they fulfilled the task?

In Ken Robinson’s TED Talk in 2006 entitled “Do schools kill creativity?” he expressed,

“we have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we're educating our children.”

Students should be encouraged to develop their own reflection and evaluation skills.

Developing pride in each learner for her/his own work. Developing analytical, predictive and adaptability skills. Building long term memory of concepts, content and learning processes.

As the teacher, actively think about the types of questions you are asking all the time, in every lesson! Proactively encourage your students to ask questions! To question! To think!


  • Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J. & Wittrock, M. C. (Eds.). (2001). Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York: Longman.

  • Bloom, B.S., Engelhart, M.D., Walker, H.H., Furst, E.J., & Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives; The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain. Longman, Green and Co., New York.

  • Ken Robinson (TED2006) Do schools kill creativity?

  • Webb, N. L (March 28, 2002) Depth-of-Knowledge Levels for Four Content Areas


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