How to Increase Higher-Level Questioning in the Classroom


Not all questions are created equal. When considering effective classroom questioning, many teachers turn their attention toward Bloom’s Taxonomy. Created by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom, this taxonomy ranks question difficulty based upon the task students are being asked to complete in the question itself. The hierarchy of difficulty ranges from knowledge through evaluation. To ensure that their classroom questioning is optimally effective, teachers should integrate as many higher-level questions as possible into their teaching, as these questions provide a more effective picture of students' understanding. To increase the number of higher-level questions that students face, you must change the way you create and present your questions.

  • Start with knowledge questions to create a basis of understanding. Compose several questions that ask students to simply recall information. Pose these questions first to ensure that students have enough understanding to answer higher-level questions. If the students do not possess this basic understanding, asking more complex questions will be futile.

  • Ask students to use their knowledge to analyze a topic. In a literature class, for example, they could analyze setting, theme, plot or point of view. After asking students where the story was set, for example, expand upon the knowledge question by asking them to determine how this setting had an impact on other aspects of the tale. By doing so, you gradually lead your students to higher-level thinking.

  • Give students the opportunity to put information they have learned into practice. Instead of asking students simply to explain a process, allow them to apply it by acting it out or explaining how this process could be used in real life.

  • Provide multiple sources of information on the same topic. Bring supplementary information into the classroom and allow students to explore multiple viewpoints. Synthesis, one of the highest levels of questioning, requires students to combine information from multiple sources to create a unified understanding of the discussed topics.

  • Pose opinion-based questions, and ask students to provide reasons for their views. Students often appreciate the opportunity to share their opinions, and evaluation -- the highest level on Bloom’s Taxonomy -- fits perfectly with opinion-based queries. Ask students for their opinions about topics frequently, and instruct them to explain the reasons behind their opinions. This process allows them to engage in evaluation.


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