Unit One: Why Use the Question in the Classroom?

Unit One: Why Use the Question in the Classroom?

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At the end of this unit, students will understand the need for questioning in the classroom and will be able to identify the reasons for including questioning in their teaching.


Click on the following link to see what Kathleen Cotton outlines as the primary purposes for questioning in the classroom. Here, Cotton discusses the benefits of teacher-generated questions.

At the most elementary level of our education, we teach with questions. I am sure we can all recall learning the scientific method which is built around a question-answer model. In the scientific model, the question forms the base of what is to be investigated and the exploratory process and investigation that follows results from the question. Questions, such as in the case of the scientific method, do not necessaily have to originate from the instructor. Questions that stem from the learner form the basis for inquiry-based learning, a widely-used method of teaching and learning. Read the following information on inquiry-based learning[1]. Whether the question comes from the teacher or the student, the point remains that the question is the starting place for advancement in the understanding and acquisition of knowledge.

There is no doubt that questioning in the classroom is a highly successful learning tool. Barak Rosenshine, Carla Meister and Saul Chapman authored the article "Teaching Students to Generate Questions: a Review of the Intervention Studies." This article discusses the educational potency of the question. The authors write, "Teaching students the cognitive strategy of generating questions about the material they had read resulted in gains in comprehension, as measured by tests given at the end of the intervention." Questioning not only helps a student take control of his own learning, but a student's comprehension is largely benefitted as his level of understanding increases. Clearly, questioning is a vital component to learning whether it is initiated by the teacher or by the student. The cognitive processes that take place when a question is posed or formulated carries with it many educational advantages.

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Now that you have some background as to what a teacher's question can provide a learner, answer the following questions to review what you have learned.

1- According to Kathleen Cotton, list four reasons that support the use of questioning in the classroom.

2- Cotton mentions that classroom questioning piques motivation in learners. Why do you think this is so? In your answer, think about the nature of the question and what it demands of its audience.

3- In your opinion, why would a question encourage inquiry? Your answer should be written in the User Talk:Abigail Moskovits section. After you have answered the question, question your classmates' answers. Challenge their lines of thought so as to allow them the opportunity to support their answers with personal experiences or readings they have done on the topic.

4- Can you think of a time, from your own teaching practice, when questioning encouraged your students to explore a specific area more deeply? What characterized that learning experience for them?


Classroom questioning provides many benefits. The use of the question in the classroom affords the learner a rich and rewarding educational experience. It promotes a greater desire to learn, it helps solidify learning that has already taken place, it creates learning connections and relationships and helps students assess their own progress. These advantages are all reflective in nature, implying that with questioning leading classroom discourse, the student is in control of his own learning. There is no learning environment that will support learning better than a self-motivated, self-regulated one.

Arrowbullet.pngClick here to proceed to Unit Two: What Does Questioning Demand of the Learner?

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