Questioning skills refer to your ability to formulate and respond to questions about situations, objects, concepts, and ideas.

There are two levels of questions: low-level questions and high-level questions.

Questioning strategies are useful to instructors for effectively planning class participation activities, for designing homework assignments, and for writing exams. The strategies help instructors to match their goals or objectives for an assignment with the actual components of the assignment.

Other functions of questioning strategies include:

  • to motivate and to interest
  • to reveal misconceptions
  • to evaluate
  • to guide thinking
  • to discipline, manage, or control
  • to encourage involvement of passive learners
  • to diagnose strengths and weaknesses
  • to understand how students form concepts
  • to help students form the habit of reflection
  • to gain insight about students’ interests
  • to increase students’ incentive to inquire
  • to help students learn to construct meaning
  • to help students set realistic expectations
  • to summarize information
  • to relate concepts
  • to provide student feedback
  • to give listening clues

Types of Questions

Lower-Level Questions

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

Higher-Level Questions

Definitions of Terms

  • What is the author’s meaning of the term?
  • What is your meaning of the term?
  • Does the term change meaning in the article?


  • What events led to this situation?
  • In what three ways does this situation resemble . . . ?
  • How do these events cause change?


  • What is said about this topic?
    • Do you agree?
  • What kind of person supports this topic?
  • Did anyone say or do something that you wouldn’t do?


  • Retell this situation in your own words.
  • What kind of diagram could you use to illustrate this concept?
  • How could we restate these ideas for a person from another culture?


  • How is this idea like . . . ?
  • How does this idea today compare with ideas of 20 years ago?
  • How does this idea in the U.S. compare with ideas in another country?
  • Which three ideas are most alike?


  • What will these ideas lead to . . . ?
  • What justification does the author give for these ideas?
  • If these ideas or events continue to happen, what will result?


  • How can these ideas be applied to life here in school?
  • How can we show from this story that we need . . . ?
  • What would be necessary if we wanted to . . . ?


  • Discuss the statement, “ASL is not a language.”
  • Some people think that English skills deteriorate when Sign is used, on what do they base this assumption?
  • What do you think?


  • What do you think of the person or situation? Why do you feel this way?
  • Find the opinions; find the facts. Are the supporting reasons logical? emotional? ethical?

Developed by Karen Kimmel for the Gallaudet University English Department from Dr. Gerald Begy, SUNY College at Brockport

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