This unit will guide you in question framing as away of engaging your learners while teaching. It will help you develop a way of strengthening your learners capacity to answer questions thereby developing their intellectual capacity


Questioning Techniques

The way you use questions with your students can have a big effect on your lesson. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your questions.

The first questions you ask are very important. Get students attention and arouse interest from the start of the lesson.

– Start with a question on the board to focus them, arouse curiosity or give them a puzzle to solve.

For example: what is a couch potato?

(a) A type of vegetable?

(b) A piece of furniture?

(c) A type of person?

Note: A couch potato is someone who watches Television or video for long hours.

– Prepare the question you need to ask to elicit the vocabulary or language in which to practice. Working it through in your mind before hand helps you teach more effectively – plan thoroughly. Do your questions get the answers you need? Check them again before the lesson

2. Give Students time to answer

3. In our keenness to get on with eliciting information or checking comprehension we do not always allow students enough time to reply. Remember that the answer is on the tip of your tongue but not on theirs. First they must process your question. Studies show that giving students “thinking-time has the following result:”

– Students were more willing to volunteer answers.

– “I don’t know” responses decreased.

– Students accuracy improved and the length of their replies too.

– The teacher became more effective questioners.

– Don’t be afraid of silence-wait at least 3 seconds for them to think and formulate a response

Allow students to help each other

– If a student cannot answer your question do not wait in silence and humiliate them.

– Rephrase your question or ask them a further question to lead them towards the information you need.

– Encourage others to suggest answer.

– Allow answers to be whispered to help – make this rule clear at the start of the activity.

– Do not settle for one correct response. Get suggestions from students involving the whole class.

Tailor the question to your aims

 Select the questions carefully and use them wisely.

– If you would like students to discuss a topic or an issue it is best to use open-ended questions. Like what? How? Direct questions like. Do you like going to the market? This will not generate much language. It is only a Yes or No response.

– “Be wary of asking too many questions in a discussion.

• “What made you think that?”
• “What is the opposite of this question?

• “You are correct. The answer to this question is false. What would be needed to make it right??” 

– Rephrase questions

– Try repeating your question in a slightly different manner

Use Question- Pause- Call response approach

– Reword your original question into smaller parts.

– Change the infection in your voice when repeating the original question

The Next Key is to ACTUALLY LISTEN

This sounds easy, but it is harder than you may think. Listening is an acquired skill. In normal conversation, we don’t really listen to others. We hear what they say but don’t listen carefully enough to “read between the lines” in order to be an effective tutor, you have to slow down and concentrate on what your tutee is saying.

Is he/she grasping the concept? Can he/she explain it easily or does it take some effort? Is his/her body language saying anything? In order to get the answers to these and other questions you must listen carefully and observe purposefully.

The question can be passed over to others. Encourage as many contributions as possible “what do you think …? Segun. Do you agree with Ngozi? Hesitate before answering your own questions or you will dominate and risk inhibiting student talk.

Questions and Listening

It is just as important (if not more important) for the tutor to guide the tutee in doing most of the explaining. This will reinforce learning of the tutee and help the tutee identify problem area.

Ask Open-ended questions

– By passing questions that require more than a Yes/No response you encourage the tutee to start thinking.

• “Where do you think we should start?”

• “What are the steps involved in working this

problem?” • “What is the definition”?

(b) Ask probing questions

– Probing questions follow up on a students contribution

– “What will happen if what you said is true”

Tutee Summaries

Along with listening it is very important to spur your students into giving a summary of what has been covered. If steps are involved in finding the solution, make sure that all the steps are included (in the right order) by your Tutee or student when summarizing. Try to encourage more than a parroting of the steps. Sometimes, having the tutee say the steps in his/her words will decrease the tendency to parrot response. If concepts are involved have the tutee paraphrase the ideas in his/her own words.

The simple summary will help you determine if you will move on to another topic or need to stay with the present one. If the summary is difficult for students, stay where you are until he/she can repeat with ease. Use the questioning techniques to guide the tutee to the correct answer if he/she has gotten some of the steps out of order.

Other Types of Questions

1. The Brain storm questions

2. The focal question


How a teacher makes use of questions in the classroom makes a lot of difference in the result he gets. With the aid of questions the teacher can stimulate the students to work harder. The students also develop confidence in themselves if this aspect of teaching is handled well by the teacher.

Source: School of Education, National Open University of Nigeria


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