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The importance of the right question

What is the right question to ask in schools? In this article you'll explore 3 types, to help you determine which one is the most appropriate.
© University of Reading

In the video ‘Questions’, Professor Ted Wragg, discusses three types of questions, he discovered, were often asked in schools. Let’s break these down a little further:

Type Definition Example
Managerial – are questions which organises and manages the logistics of the classroom Have you all got your books?
Lower order – are generally direct questions
– requires the learner to recall information they previously learned
– measures the learner’s knowledge
– good for teaching factual knowledge
How many wives did Henry VIII have?
Higher order – are questions that requires the learner to explore and formulate their own answer using their own knowledge
– encourages problem solving
– promotes discussion and critical thinking
What would have happened if the Spanish Armada had won?

For the next few days note down – not necessarily the question – but the types of questions you ask. We’ve created a useful tally sheet which consist of the above three descriptors which you can use to help keep track of your progress. Write down the three points Ted Wragg recommends in the video, on a piece of card or on your phone and use them as a handy reminder that you’re checking what you’re asking.

  • Do I ask varied and searching questions or are they pretty narrow and predictable?
  • Do I give children time to give extended answers or do I cut them off too early in the interest of pace?
  • Do I give them clear feedback, or do I leave them dangling in uncertainty?
© University of Reading
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