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Professor John Hattie, in Visible Learning for Teachers, ranks questioning as 53rd in his total of 150 influences on effective learning, with an effect size of 0.48, above the ‘hinge point’ of 0.4. Taken further, classroom discussion (that is pupil/pupil and pupil/teacher dialogue, rather than teacher monologue) is ranked 7th, with nearly double the effect size of 0.82.

‘Easy’ questions may produce answers that indicate a grasp of ‘facts’, but they do not promote and enhance pupils’ learning.

Effective questioning:

  • stimulates pupils’ thinking, probing further and further to clarify understanding
  • reveals misconceptions, unexpected understanding, knowledge and prior experiences
  • encourages pupils to make links and connections with previous and subsequent learning
  • challenges both staff and pupils to find the most effective ways of explaining, analysing, evaluating and creating new ideas.

Aims and outcomes

Participants will:

  • know more about some of the research underpinning effective questioning and that questionshave a range of different functions in the classroom
  • understand more about which types of questions encourage which types of thinking … quality versus quantity!
  • be able to experiment with some practical questioning techniques to raise classroom expectations.

Unit contents

  • Warm up activity
  • The big picture
  • Reflections on research 1
  • ABC activity
  • Reflections on research 2
  • Question-sorting activity
  • Personal reflections
  • Where now? What next?
  • Round up activity

Unit content

Unit 1: Why? Effective questioning