ReflectionsEffective Questioning

Effective Questioning

Two of the key skills of teaching are effective questioning and feedback strategies, but the way a teacher interrelates them, using questioning as feedback or feedback through questioning, prompts students into thinking and increases their metacognition skills, or how to think for themselves.

Questioning through discussion and dialogue is the most common form of interaction between teacher and pupil that prompts “reflection, observation, critical thinking, and evaluation” (Hughes, 2005, p. 86). But the difference between just posing questions and effective questioning lies in planning for the right questioning methods that align with the learning goals and cater for differentiation.

Feedback strategies can be both summative and formative; while the first marks the student’s achievements at the end of a learning period, the latter is ongoing in the classroom, timely, and “offers guidance on how work can be improved” (Black and William, 1998, p. 4). Formative feedback aligns with the goal, identifies the gap in learning, and prompts the student into thinking by leaving time for revision, thus boosting understanding and motivation.

Using effective questioning as a feedback strategy is important in the formative, scaffolded learning process. Questioning can be applied before, during, and after new learning has been introduced through planned patterns using different sequences of cognitive levels in pair or group work (Hannel, 2009, p. 66).

“The dialogue between pupils and a teacher should be thoughtful, reflective, focused to evoke and explore understanding, and conducted so that all pupils have an opportunity to think and express their ideas” (Black and William, 1998, p. 8).

As opposed to a teacher’s talk where students are mere passive receivers, encouraging discourse and dialogue in a class improves the pupil’s communication skills, allows them to practice new learned vocabulary and ideas, helps them understand and “unlearn” assumptions, and allows for instant feedback to check and correct what they’ve learned and evaluate their learning (Petty, 2009, p. 193). Good formative feedback prompts learning and is achieved with comments and open-ended questions that reveal potential in pupils’ work, stimulate thinking, and offer them ways to improve. Leaving time for answering and revision and inviting them to discuss their thinking with their peers or in groups stimulates the student’s cognitive growth at their own pace (Black and William, 1998, p. 8).


Black, P. and William, D., 1998. Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment, Kings College, London. Hannel, I., 2009. Insufficient questioning. Kappan, 91(3), pp. 65–69.

Hughes, J., 2005. Improving communication skills in student music teachers. Part Two: questioning skills. Music Education Research, March, 7(1), pp. 83–99.

NCCA, 2015, Effective Questioning, [online]. Available at:[Accessed 04 November 2023]

Petty, G., 2009. Teaching Today. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. Vogler, K.E., 2005, Improve your verbal questioning, The Clearing House, November/December, 79(2), pp. 98–103

Photo by

Bk to Top