Improving your questioning

From their work on questioning Wragg and Brown (1993) identified a range of common errors that teachers may employ when they are using questions in the classroom.

Common errors and reflections on own practice

  1. Asking too many questions at once.
  2. Asking a question and answering it yourself.
  3. Asking questions only of the brightest or most likeable.
  4. Asking a difficult question too early.
  5. Asking questions in a threatening way
  6. Asking irrelevant questions.
  7. Asking the same kind of questions all the time.
  8. Failing to correct wrong answers.
  9. Failing to indicate a change in the type of question.
  10. Failing to give learners time to think.
  11. Failing to pay attention to answers.
  12. Failing to see implications of answers.
  13. Failing to build on answers.

Source: Wragg and Brown (1993).

In order to avoid these common errors and make the use of questions more effective, we would advocate planning in key questions you wish to use during the lesson whilst considering the purpose for using the question.

Quick reflection

You may or may not recognise some of these common errors when questioning in your classroom. Use this quick form to indicate which problems might be typically part of your practice. The form is anonymous and we encourage you to use it to highlight one to improve upon this week. You can see how other teachers have responded here.

Classroom task

Tackling a common error

As a short classroom task, choose one of the errors which you feel you may sometimes use. Identify why this might not be the best use of questions in a lesson.

As you plan a lesson, or even notice yourself in a lesson practising that common error in your teaching, think about what you could do differently.

Capture on your reflection grid or share ideas below for what you would do to avoid this common error.

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This article is from the free online course:

Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment in Science and Maths

National STEM Learning Centre