Direct vs. Indirect Questioning Techniques


Questions are a part of the English language that are used to obtain information. The type of information gathered and the way it is gathered depends on the questioning techniques used. Two questioning techniques, indirect and direct, help teachers in the classroom. There, questioning techniques also become a vital part in aiding the students in absorbing the lessons taught.


  • Indirect questions are those that elicit information without asking about the subject or topic directly. Indirect questions are often asked in a series aimed at gathering details or pieces of information. Direct questions get to the point, usually obtaining a yes or no answer about the topic or subject. Direct questions are straightforward, unlike indirect questions.


  • Indirect questioning techniques include leading, probing and funnel questioning. Leading questions are used to draw the person answering the questions to a certain conclusion. Probing questions allow the person asking the questions to discover certain details through a series of questions. Funnel questions are general questions that eventually become specific, all of which are used to gather information. Direct questioning techniques can be used in probing and leading to get at specific details. Indirect and direct questions are also called open and closed questions.


  • Direct questions are those that are easily answered with a yes or no answer. Some direct questions elicit a different response, but it is succinct and specific to the goal of the questioning. Indirect questions begin with a question word, such as “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why” and “how.” The questions are structured to gather details or clues to the goal of the question. For example, the direct question, “Is this your car?” is aimed at determining ownership of an automobile. The indirect question, “Who owns the car?” is also aimed at finding the owner, but avoids asking the question directly to one of the people who may own the car.


  • Both direct and indirect questions are used in the classroom to communicate lessons. The questions force the children to reflect on the material learned in previous lessons to find the answers to the questions at hand. Teachers use the questions to test the knowledge of their students and also to find out where the student’s strength and weaknesses lie. Indirect questions are used to guide students to the lesson goals and meanings, while direct questions test specific knowledge and details.


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