Background Information on Questioning
Questioning skills refer to one's ability to formulate and respond to questions about situations, objects, concepts, and ideas. Questions may derive from oneself or from other people.
There are two levels of questions: low-level questions and high-level questions. The former refers to questions that require one to recall information that has been registered in memory. Low-level questions operate on the level of knowledge, drawing from one's knowledge base of a subject. The latter encompasses questions that require one to process information rather than simply recall it. High-level questions operate on one's ability to comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information.
High-level questions may be further divided into two types: description and comparison. Description questions require that one observe or describe an object using illustrations, demonstrations, maps, graphs, or tables. Examples of description questions are "What do you notice here?" and "Describe the object in front of you." Comparison questions require that one examine two or more objects or ideas and use statements or illustrations to identify similarities and differences. These are very effective high-level questions because they encourage students to process information in different ways. Examples of comparison questions are "What are the similarities and differences between the two objects?" and "Compare and contrast the two objects."
Questions may also be dichotomized according to the number of answers they generate. Some questions are convergent, meaning there is only one correct answer. Convergent questions are sometimes called objective questions. An example of a convergent question is "In what year did the U.S. enter the Korean War?" Divergent questions, on the other hand, have more than one appropriate answer. They may be referred to as subjective questions. "What caused World War II?" is an example of a divergent question.
Purposes of Questioning Strategies
Questioning strategies are useful to instructors for effectively planning class participation activities, for designing homework assignments, and for writing exams. The strategies help instructors to match their goals or objectives for an assignment with the actual components of the assignment. Other functions of questioning strategies are as follows.
According to Kerry (1982), a teacher asks about 1000 questions per week. What purposes do these questions serve?
For students, questioning strategies help to categorize and anticipate exam questions, allowing for more effective preparation. The strategies are also useful for study groups, focusing efforts and allowing members to test each other. They improve the student's ability to clarify, reorganize, and accurately explain new information. Questioning also aids in self-assessment and self-monitoring.
Advantages of Questioning Strategies
Questions and questioning techniques influence learners' achievement, attitudes, and thinking skills. The level of the question tends to obtain a similar level of answer. Achievement can improve if high levels of questions are accompanied by wait-time, redirection, and probing techniques.
One advantage of questioning strategies is they are flexible and widely applicable. They may be tailored to fit the needs of different subjects, various types of information, and different levels of competence.
Questioning strategies may be used by instructors and students alike. Students may use the strategies with the help of a facilitator or they may develop the skills on their own.
Specific Questioning Strategies
Several questioning strategies for professionals and students are discussed in this page.