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December 7, 2023
16 min read

All You Need to Know About Questioning Skills for Teachers

All You Need to Know About Questioning Skills for Teachers
Written By
Aashita Pillai

Aashita Pillai

Aashita is a writer here at Suraasa and has formerly worked as a Teacher Mentor for a couple of years. She wields words like weapons to help readers get clear and concise information.

Hello teachers, let’s start this blog on questioning skills with some important questions right off the bat.

Q1) What's the most valuable tool in a teacher's toolkit? (Single-answer question)


a) Extensive knowledge of the subject matter

b) Well-designed lesson plans

c) Ability to ask the right questions

If you answered (c), you're absolutely right. The ability to ask the right questions paves the way to understanding and curiosity in the classroom.

Q2) What do questions represent in the classroom? (Single-answer question)


a) A method to end the topic

b) A bridge to student comprehension

c) An annoyance

If you chose (b), you're on the right track. Questions act as a bridge, connecting students to a deeper comprehension of the subject matter. They foster engagement, curiosity, and active learning in the classroom.

Attitude towards questioning in the classroom

Q3) What is this blog all about? (Single answer question)

a) Importance of questioning skills

b) Strategies for improving questioning skills

c) Both a) and b)

If you selected (c ), you're spot on. This blog will take you through the importance of questioning skills. We’ll also learn about the strategies for improving these skills! And here’s a bonus for you—we'll be exploring the significance of questioning skills in various educational settings, too!!! So, why wait? Let’s go!

Understanding Questioning Skills

Now, as we begin understanding questioning skills, imagine teaching without asking questions. It's like constructing a building without the essential support pillars, resulting in an unstable foundation.

Why it is important to develop the skill of questioning

In this section, we'll dive into what questioning skill means and why it's pivotal for your journey as a teacher.

What is Questioning Skill?

Questioning skill is the ability to ask the right questions at the right time in the classroom. It is the ability of a teacher to ask relevant, purposeful, and thought-provoking questions that elicit meaningful responses from students.

Questioning skill is essential for building a strong educational foundation. Let’s revisit our previous example: if you keep constructing a building without any quality checks or support pillars, what will happen? It will not turn out the way you wanted it to be, and inevitably it will collapse.

Similarly, in the context of teaching, the building is the knowledge you impart, and the support pillars are your questioning skills. They help you check your students’ understanding and guide their learning. You might be wondering: isn’t this what we do in assessments? 

Not really! Questioning is a different way of measuring learning that has some unique benefits. It gives you immediate feedback and lets you adjust your teaching according to your students’ needs. Assessments, on the other hand, usually measure the final outcomes of learning after a certain period of time. For example, a good question after teaching fractions is: “How can you use fractions to compare the sizes of different objects?”. This helps them apply their knowledge to real-world situations.

What is questioning skill and its importance

Why is it Important to Develop the Skill of Questioning?

Developing questioning skills is a game-changer for teachers and students. In this section, we’ll explore the benefits of questioning skills for teachers and students separately. Let’s start with how teachers can benefit from questioning skills-

Benefits for Teachers

  • Assessment of Student Understanding: Utilize questioning skills to identify areas where students may be struggling. This lets you help them individually or give them extra support to improve their understanding. 
  • Timely Feedback for Improvement: The art of questioning helps you gather immediate feedback and insights into the effectiveness of your pedagogy on student comprehension. This creates an environment that values continuous improvement and enables students to address challenges promptly by reflecting on their learning.
  • Inclusive classroom environment: Cultivate trust and openness by asking engaging questions and motivating active student participation. Ensure a diverse range of voices is heard, fostering an inclusive and respectful classroom atmosphere.
  • Positive Teacher-Student Relationships: Harness questioning skills to engage authentically with students, understanding their unique needs and perspectives. This not only builds rapport but also establishes a foundation for a positive and supportive teacher-student relationship.

  • Efficient Syllabus Coverage: Identify and address potential roadblocks early on through strategic questioning, ensuring the syllabus is covered efficiently. This proactive approach contributes to a well-paced and comprehensive learning experience.
  • Student Curiosity Stimulation: Craft questions that ignite curiosity, prompting students to engage with the subject matter actively. This approach transforms lessons into captivating experiences that leave a lasting impact on students' interest and understanding.
Why it is important to develop the skill of questioning in teachers

Benefits for Students:

And for students, questions are like a breath of fresh air. They make learning exciting, not just a dull routine. They transform learning from a boring monologue by the teacher to an exciting dialogue exchange. 

Questions prompt students to think critically, strengthening their problem-solving muscles. Plus, they open doors to meaningful discussions where every student's voice matters.

Let's look at this with an example. Imagine you're teaching history. Instead of saying, "What year did this happen?" (which is kind of a snooze-fest), you ask, "Why do you think this event shaped the course of history?" Bam! You've just set the stage for a lively discussion.

Contrast scenarios to prove importance of questioning skill

As a teacher, you're not just shaping the students of today; you're molding the leaders, thinkers, and problem-solvers of tomorrow. For example, consider your students entering the legal profession. Leading by your example of using questioning skills effectively, they too can use questioning to excel in courtroom battles, negotiation, and legal research. Their capacity to craft compelling questions can sway the verdict and deliver justice.

And the impact doesn't stop there. By practicing the art of asking effective questions, you're preparing your students for a world of opportunities and challenges in their future careers.

Pro-Tip
Asking more “How” and “Why” oriented questions encourages critical thinking in the classroom. It is important to limit your “What” questions, which can be close-ended and often result in just a direct answer.

Still unclear how it works? Apply it to your own experience. As you read this blog on effective questioning skills, consider this: which question taught you more – 'What is Questioning Skill?' or 'Why is developing the skill of questioning important?”

What are some Strategies for Developing Questioning Skills?

Now that you've understood the importance of questioning skills, how can you get better at it? You can use any of the below strategies to start-

  1. Professional Development: Seek opportunities to attend workshops or training sessions that focus on questioning techniques. These can provide you with a toolkit of practical methods. 

    Solution: Watch this masterclass on the different types of questioning techniques to gain more insights. 
  2. Observation and Mentorship: Observe experienced educators who excel in questioning techniques and consider mentorship to gain insights from their expertise. 

    Solution: You can also greatly benefit from a 1-on-1 counseling session with a mentor to get personalized guidance for improving your skills.
  3. Self-Study: Explore educational resources such as books, articles, and online courses dedicated to questioning techniques. These can help you expand your repertoire.

    Solution: You can begin your self-study on questioning techniques right away with a plethora of teaching and learning resources from this exclusive Resource Library.
  4. Practice: Implement what you've learned in your own classroom. Experiment with different techniques and observe how they impact student engagement and understanding.

    Solution: Keen on experimenting with different techniques? Read this blog to learn different questioning techniques and how you can implement them.
Basic strategies to improve your skill of questioning

 Improving questioning skills is an ongoing process that requires commitment and dedication, just like improving any other skills. It involves constant refinement, adapting to students' needs, and experimenting with different approaches.


Exploring Different Applications of Questioning Skills

Now that we've grasped the essence of questioning skills and their importance, it's time to explore the diverse applications of these skills.

Questioning Skills in the Classroom

In the classroom, questioning skills are like the steering wheel of a car, guiding your teaching journey. Just as a car needs a steering wheel to navigate, you need questioning skills to lead your students through the world of learning.

Imagine teaching a science lesson about the water cycle. Instead of monologuing about precipitation and condensation, you ask, "Why does it rain? What happens to the water in the sky?" These questions turn passive listeners into active participants.

Questioning skills in the classroom

But, of course, there are speed bumps to conquer. Common challenges in the classroom include students' hesitation to answer or difficulty in framing questions effectively. Don't worry; you're not alone in this.

To address these challenges, create a friendly and inclusive classroom where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. Start with LOTs (Lower-Order Thinking Questions) to build confidence. Once the momentum builds,  transition into HOTs (Higher-Order Thinking Questions) that spark curiosity and engagement.

Questioning Skills in Assignments & Homework

Questioning skills aren't limited to the classroom; they also come into play with assignments and homework. 

The key lies in posing open-ended questions that encourage exploration, analysis, and reflection. Instead of solely seeking correct answers, teachers, regardless of their subject expertise, should strive to provoke thoughtful responses that require students to connect concepts, consider multiple perspectives, and articulate their reasoning.

Following Bloom's Taxonomy, start your questions with basic recall and progress to higher-level thinking. This tiered approach ensures students not only understand concepts but also learn to apply and synthesize knowledge. Moreover, aim to create a supportive environment where your students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, fostering a culture of curiosity and collaboration.

Here are some examples of how you can do this for different subjects or topics:

Critical  Literature Analysis: In a literature assignment, encourage students to analyze character development by asking questions like, "How does the character change throughout the story, and what events trigger these changes?" This approach delves deeper into understanding the text.

Math Problem-Solving: For math assignments, go beyond mere calculations. Ask students to explain their problem-solving strategies and justify their answers. For instance, "Why did you choose this method to solve the equation, and how confident are you in the result?".

Questioning skills in assignments & homework

Science Investigations: In a science homework task, prompt students to formulate their hypotheses and design experiments. This fosters inquiry-based learning. For example, "What is your hypothesis for the plant growth experiment, and how will you test it?".

Historical Perspective: In history assignments, encourage students to view historical events from different perspectives. Ask questions like, "How might the outcome of the event have changed if certain decisions were made differently?".

As seen in the above examples, by tailoring questions to the specific subject matter and encouraging students to articulate their reasoning, you can instill a sense of ownership over their learning, promoting active engagement beyond the confines of the classroom.

Activity Time: Peer Questioning Practice
Ready to elevate your teaching skills? We have an insightful activity designed to enhance your questioning techniques through collaborative learning.

Pair up with a fellow teacher. Each of you should prepare a brief topic from your curriculum. Take turns playing the roles of teacher and student. The "student" will ask thought-provoking questions related to the topic, while the "teacher" practices responding effectively. Afterward, discuss what worked well and what could be improved in your questioning and answering techniques. This activity helps you refine your questioning skills through peer feedback and collaborative learning.


Understanding the Relationship between Questioning Techniques and Questioning Skills

Now, we are going to explore a different aspect of questioning skills: how they are linked to questioning techniques.

What are Questioning Techniques?

Questioning techniques are the practical methods and strategies teachers use to pose questions effectively. These techniques influence the way questions are asked and the type of responses they elicit from students. In essence, questioning techniques are the tools you need to master to apply your questioning skills effectively.

How do Questioning Skills And Questioning Techniques Complement Each Other?

Questioning techniques and questioning skills are like two sides of the same coin, working in tandem to enhance the teaching and learning experience. Questioning skills help you choose and use the right questioning techniques. Questioning techniques are methods or strategies to ask effective questions. So, they complement each other and help you achieve your goals. 

For example, you can use questioning skills to pick the best questioning technique for your lesson. You can use questioning techniques to ask questions that stimulate your students’ thinking and learning.

questioning Skills and Questioning Techniques

The synergy between these two is evident when you craft a well-structured open-ended question (questioning technique) to prompt your students to think deeply about the subject matter (questioning skill). Together, they create an engaging learning environment where students actively participate and explore the subject matter. Mastering questioning techniques will fine-tune your questioning skills, ultimately fostering a more dynamic and interactive learning environment for your students. The fusion of these two elements plays a pivotal role in the success of your teaching journey.

Conclusion

To wrap up, let's remember: good questions make great teaching. They open doors to learning and thinking. As teachers, your questions are powerful. They can change a student's day or even their way of seeing the world. So, think about this: What new questions will you ask in your next class? Your questions can start small ripples of change. Keep asking, keep inspiring. Your next question could be the key that unlocks a student's love for learning.

Did you gain some actionable insights that you can apply in your classroom after reading this blog?

If you answered a big YES & you’re keen on upskilling further, book a FREE call with a seasoned mentor today. Benefit from their personalized guidance tailored to your upskilling needs and teaching background.

FAQs

Where can I find additional resources to enhance my questioning skills further?
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Do recruiters ask about your questioning skills in teaching job interviews?
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How can I create a well-structured lesson plan that employs my questioning skills?
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What are the benefits of using the skill of questioning in microteaching?
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Is Questioning Skills an important trait for being a successful teacher?
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Written By
Aashita Pillai

Aashita Pillai

Aashita is a writer here at Suraasa and has formerly worked as a Teacher Mentor for a couple of years. She wields words like weapons to help readers get clear and concise information.

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