Questioning is a hot topic in teaching and if used correctly, can really have a positive effect on pupils’ learning.

Apparently teachers ask a whopping 350 questions a day! Sounds like a lot, right? Don’t think you have anything to learn about questioning? Well before you move on, just stop and read the extended figures…

  • 60% of questions are general recalling of the facts
  • 20% actually encourage thinking
  • 20% are routine questions such as “What are you doing?”

Not so easy to dismiss the questioning now is it? I think the important thing to remember when regarding questioning is actually to plan a set of questions before hand. The result doesn’t have to always determine if the pupil gets the answer right, but should reveal something about their way of thinking.


Some useful tips with questioning include:

  • Using the phrase “what makes you say that?” or “what are your thoughts on this?” when asking a question, as it discourages a single word answer.
  • Planning questions which are related to your learning objective.
  • If a pupil gives a wrong answer, never belittle them as this discourages participation (and can be detrimental to behaviour), but respond with another answer to direct them onto the correct path.
  • Another great tip for questioning is to avoid choosing the same people to answer your questions. It sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how easily we can fall into this trap. Unfortunately it makes it too easy for pupils to sit back and let others do all the work. A good way around this which is extremely effective at keeping pupils on task, is to use the “hands down” rule. You ask the class a question and choose any pupil you want! That way everyone has to have an answer prepared just in case they are the chosen one…
  • Also, bear in mind, it takes pupils an average of about 7 seconds to hear the question and form a suitable response, so count to 7 before choosing – it’s amazing watching the hands up in the room double after the first few seconds!




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