CLOI Classroom Tip: Developing Student Questioning Strategies

Why ask Questions?

Teachers ask questions for many reasons, including:

  • To have the student actively involved in the lesson
  • To increase enthusiasm or curiosity
  • To gauge students’ preparation
  • To check on any accomplishments of work
  • To build critical thinking skills
  • To evaluate prior lessons
  • To foster perceptions
  • To assess accomplishment or mastery of goals and ideas
  • To inspire independent learning


Overall, research shows teaching that involves questioning is more effective than teaching without questioning. An important finding is that questions that allow students to concentrate their attention on significant elements of a lesson will have better comprehension than the students that focus on rare or interesting elements. A teacher may fluctuate his or her reason in asking questions during a single lesson, or a single question may have more than one resolution.

Click the link to help with your next lesson. https://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/issue/energy-and-the-polar-environment/questioning-techniques-research-based-strategies-for-teachers

Here is an activity that teachers can adapt.

Activity:  Students create questions based on a given text that was read by the class. The students develop sets of questions that range in complexity, and their goal is to “Stump the Scholar”.  The “scholar” could be the teacher, school librarian, or principal invited into the classroom for this activity.  It’s a chance for students to show their expertise and hopefully ask a question that is too hard for the scholar!

This activity can be adapted to every grade level, K-12.  It provides a welcome change of pace for students who tire of the traditional answering of questions when reading is completed.  It requires active engagement with the text and its FUN!  Have a Stump the Scholar contest in your grade! Seek out staff or other adult volunteers that will join in!  Your students will love it!

The question sets include literal, inferential, and evaluative types.  Students practice with each question style. This exercise promotes critical thinking, deep engagement with the text, as well as speaking and writing skills.  Students can work alone, in pairs, or small groups.  This can be a formative assessment performed while a longer novel or informational text is being read or a summative assignment to review an entire text.

Commonwealth Learning Online Institute (CLOI) has developed a unique course titled Developing Comprehension with the State Standards.  Our course contains excellent resources including this neat classroom activity.  Relevant Common Core Standards: This activity relates directly to many of the Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading.  The link to this section of the standards is: Here.

Additional Resource for Questioning Methods

The following online resource can help you learn more about effective questioning methods and implement them in your classroom.

School Improvement Research Series: Classroom Questioning
This document from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory summarizes research findings on questioning techniques.