Get HOT When You Question

January 1, 2018

Research for This Tool

Questioning is a critical component of good instruction. Not only is it important to ask comprehension questions at the end of a unit or lesson, using effective questioning techniques during a lesson or discussion has a positive impact on student learning. It can be a challenge for some teachers to get in the habit of asking higher order thinking (HOT) questions. However, research has shown that students learn more when a higher percentage of HOT questions are asked in combination with more basic knowledge and understanding questions. Here are two references that contain key information on questioning, including HOT questions as part of the lesson cycle.

Cecil, Nancy Lee. (1995) The Art of Inquiry: Questioning Strategies for K-6 Classrooms. Pegius Publishers.

Rothstein, D. and Santana, L. (2011) Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Harvard Education Press.

How to Use This Tool

Get HOT When You QuestionWe have gathered some quick and easy ways to raise the level of questions asked in the classroom from basic, close ended, convergent questions to more open ended and divergent questions. There are also many ways to use questioning that involve all students. Here are some tools:

  1. Follow a question with a question. A common way to elicit higher order thinking is to follow a basic question with one that requires more thinking, like, “How do you know?” or “Why is that important?” When a student responds, the other students not only hear the correct answer, but they also hear the reasoning behind that answer.
  2. Another strategy is to use white boards or response cards. Asking a question and then having students respond with white boards is very efficient. You ask one question but, instead of calling on one student at a time, students all respond once on individual white boards. Teachers can quickly read student responses and check for understanding, determining exactly who does and does not understand.
  3. Finally, do some quick and easy brainstorming by asking students to solve problems or offer ideas. Prompt students with the phrase, “In what ways might we…?” Using this question stem gets students thinking and allows them to suggest creative solutions and generate novel and original ideas.