Unit Three: How Should an Educator Question his Students?

Unit Three: How Should an Educator Question his Students?

Purplearrowbullet.gifLearning Objectives

By the end of this unit, the learners will identify when and how it is appropriate to use a question in the classroom.


Traditionally, there are two approaches to questioning in the classrrom. There is I-R-E, which stands for Initiation-Response-Evaluation and there is I-R-F, which stands for Initiation-Response-Feedback. To learn more about each of these questioning methodologies, click on the acronyms above.

Click on the following link to view Kathleen Cotton's outline of Using the Question in the Classroom.

Cotton discusses wait-times when it comes to classroom questioning. Click here to learn more about Wait-Time.

Greenarrowbullet.gifLearning Activities

1- Briefly describe the fundamental differences between I-R-E and I-R-F. Click on I-R-E & I-R-F in Practice and determine which questions fall under the category of I-R-E and which fall under the category of I-R-F.

2- Based on what you have read in Using the Question in the Classroom, write a one-page essay delineating the age and demographics of your learning population and how you would apply questioning in your classroom, using your content material as a guide. Based on the age and level of your learners, you must explain why you would or would not use questioning in your classroom (and which sort of questions you would use) and provide an example of your choice.


You have seen two similar but distinct processes of questioning in the classroom. Both the I-R-E method and the I-R-F method have advantages and disadvantages but only one, the I-R-F approach to classroom discourse, encourages critical thought, the mainstay of a successful education, while the other does not.

Cotton has outlined for us when and how an educator should incorporate questions into his teaching. While questioning is highly valuable, in many situations it may be detrimental to the learning process and an educator must be aware of when and how questions should be used in his classroom.

Arrowbullet.pngClick here to proceed to Unit Four: How Does an Instructor Design an Effective Question?

Arrowbullet.pngClick here to return to Effective Questioning in the Classroom.