Unit Two: What Does Questioning Demand of the Learner?


Unit Two: What Does Questioning Demand of the Learner?

Purplearrowbullet.gifLearning Objectives

In this unit, students will identify what questioning demands of the learner and will outline the steps a learner must take to interpret a question.


In Alison King's article, "Facilitating Elaborative Learning Through Guided Student-Generated Questioning," King discusses the effectiveness of learner-produced questions in the classroom. King writes, "guided questioning strategy facilitated learning by prompting students to generate specific thought-provoking questions pertaining to the material to be learned, and those questions in turn elicited relevant explanations." By encouraging students to create their own questions in order to elicit learning, King found that "The characteristics of the questioning strategy that accounts for these effects were the critical-thinking nature of the question prompts and the high degree of learner autonomy within the structure of the strategy." By demanding students to think differently and to compose themselves differently in the classroom, rather than being sponges absorbing information, their roles become that of puruser of information which allows them to employ critical thinking skills which, in turn, yield a deep understanding of the learned material while fostering and supporting self-directed and self-regulated learning. The act of turning the learning experience into a dynamic and interrogative one, creates active learners who are better able to regulate and self-direct their own learning.

When teachers pose questions to their learners, certain thought processes go into action. Students follow a series of steps when formulating a response. To see the steps, click on the following link Sequence of Steps.

Greenarrowbullet.gifLearning Activities

After you have visited Sequence of Steps, answer the following questions:

1- Are most of the thought processes that students undergo during their interpretation of a question conscious or subconscious?

2- You will be presented with a question. Based on the steps presented in the Sequence of Steps, write down which processes you consciously underwent. Question: In the realm of science, what are the differences between a liquid, a solid and a gas?

3- Based on the content material you teach, develop a lesson plan that you feel will be rich in teacher-led questions. Write out a number of the questions you EXPECT to ask your students. Following the first three steps from the Sequence of Steps, write out in words, the thought process you think your students will go through when they are presented with a question.


When teachers present questions to their students, the goal is not simply to elicit a response. The teacher's objective is to engage the student in learning and encourage thought on many levels. A teacher's questioning not only promotes this critical thought, but it helps a learner regulate his own learning, thereby motivating him to want to explore a subject deeper and more fully. Cotton outlines what steps a learner undergoes as he encounters a question and it is interesting to note that not all of the steps are actively pursued by the learner. Many of them are subconscious, however they are no less vital components to the knowledge-building process.

Arrowbullet.pngClick here to proceed to Unit Three: How Should an Educator Question his Students?

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