5. Questioning and Assessment

Resources, ideas and prompts for discussion related to Questioning.

So that…pupils are made to think hard with breadth, depth and accuracy, and can apply what they have learned.

Why is Questioning so important?

Questioning is ubiquitous, and even though it has a dedicated section and principle page within the MACS Teaching and Learning approach and CPD model, in truth it lives amongst all of the other principles too, and supports them and is fuelled by them in equal measure! Based on this, questioning is a vital skill for teachers to master in order to provide the launchpad for many other approaches and techniques.

Allison and Tharby, in ‘Making Every Lesson Count‘, pose a question themselves in order to consider teacher questioning: “how many teachers ever stop to consider why they are asking a question and what they are hoping to achieve by asking it?”. They argue that in principle good questioning can promote and sustain academic rigour in a classroom, allows us to find out far more about what learners have or have not understood, and perhaps of most importance – questioning is a vehicle which really puts the emphasis on students taking ‘a share of the cognitive work of the classroom’.

Teachers who appear well versed in the art of questioning use approaches in such a way to maximise the attention of all students, and furthermore questioning a student can be a means to show your interest in them and their views on the learning that is going on. Activities involving questioning can be an integral part of the culture building of our classrooms and a barometer of what standards we expect:

  • Do we encourage responses in subject specific language?
  • Do we accept incorrect answers or answers that are incomplete?
  • Do we expect all that enter our classroom to listen to others with respect?

Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction – A View on Questioning

Barak Rosenshine, in ‘Principles of Instruction’, lists questioning as one of ten integral principles in effective teaching and learning. Rosenshine suggests that teachers:

“Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students: Questions help students practise new information and connect material to their prior learning.”

Barak Rosenshine – Principles of Instruction

As far as effective teaching is concerned, in relation to the classrooms where students made the highest gains in progress and achieved highly in tests, Rosenshine observes the following features in that these teachers…

  • …asked more questions
  • …involved more students
  • …probed more in depth
  • …spent more time explaining, clarifying and checking understanding based on responses
  • …asked students to think aloud

This section explores questioning approaches and techniques that have positive impacts on classrooms. It draws on a range of sources of information but key to this are the chapters on Questioning from ‘Making Every Lesson Count’, ‘Teach Like A Champion 2.0’ and ‘Teaching Walkthrus’.

Associated further reading and references:

  • ‘Chapter 6: Questioning’, in Allison, S. and Tharby, A., 2017. Making Every Lesson Count. Carmarthen: Crown House.
  • Rosenshine, B. (2012). Principles of Instruction: Research-Based Strategies that All Teachers Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/periodicals/Rosenshine.pdf
  • Sherrington, T., and Caviglioli, O., 2020. TEACHING WALKTHRUS. [S.l.]: JOHN CATT EDUCATIONAL LTD.
  • Lemov, D., 2015. Teach Like A Champion 2.0. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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