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Alice Keeler

The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations

The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations

Devlepoing questiong strategies

Lisa Nyberg teaches with me at Fresno State University. I have always been impressed with her knowledge and passion. I enjoy learning from her about questioning strategies. As we know, asking questions can be a powerful teaching strategy. I had not really thought about the different types of questions and how to really leverage them for student growth. Learning the nuances of questioning strategies can help to better harness the power of questioning.

Developing Questioning Strategies:

By Lisa Nyberg

What types of questions do I need to ask and when should I ask them?

Questions serve many purposes. They help students connect concepts, think critically, and explore concepts at a deeper level. They can help teachers check for understanding and uncover student misconceptions. Questions can be used to clarify and to probe. Questions can extend students’ thinking by requiring the students to justify their answers. Most important, questions involve students in the learning and cause the students to continue thinking and making questions even after the initial discussion ends.

Teachers can ask several types of questions. Two main questions are convergent and divergent. To check for understanding, the teacher asks a convergent question with one specific answer. To open up and expand the discussion to many possible responses, the teacher asks a divergent question with many possible answers. The questions define the focus of the learning. A discussion with only convergent questions feels like a game show, but a discussion with only divergent questions lacks direction. Discussions become dynamic when a blend of different types of questions is thoughtfully used. When deciding the types of questions to ask, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want to know?
  • How do you want your students to get involved in the learning (p. 18)

To learn more about ways to optimize questioning in your classroom, check out:

The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations
By Julie V. McGough and Lisa M. Nyberg

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NSTA Press Link:


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