2. Introduction and background
In Further Education (FE) many teachers write
‘question and answer’ as their assessment
method or identify questioning as an
opportunity to ‘stretch and challenge’, but what
questions are actually asked in the classroom?
There has been a lot of research in the school
sector, but this has been limited in post-
compulsory education. Can we improve
‘learning’ if we can identify when questions are
being used and how they are being asked?
How can we help FE teachers to analyse their
questioning techniques and develop action
plans for self-improvement?
3. Aims of the Research Project
• Analyse current questioning practices in FE
using a proforma to record questioning
‘types’ in lessons during observations
• Develop a questioning tool for staff
to use to analyse own practice in
questioning and to plan for future
• Ask staff to develop a Surveymonkey
tool for assessing questioning techniques
4. Relevant Reading
• Ted Wragg (c2000) states that teachers
ask many questions, but most of them lack
value and are more about classroom
management than eliciting knowledge. In
secondary schools only 4% of questions are
• Hastings (2003) suggests that teachers ask up
to two questions every minute, wait less than
one second for an answer and that questions
account for almost a third of all teaching time.
5. Assessment for Learning (AfL)
Jones (2003) analysed the AfL strategy for the 16-19
Vocational Support Strategy. AfL proposes different
assessment and feedback strategies that could be used,
including asking questions.
Jones states that ‘testing learning is an important part
of classroom practice and questioning is one of the
most common methods of checking learner understanding
.. Developing the skills associated with questioning
techniques presents many challenges for teachers and is
something that is developed over time’. One of the AfL
approaches is ‘no-hands up’, but as this is not often used
in FE classes, what else could help better questioning?
6. Assessment for Learning (2)
Geoff Petty also talks about Assessment for
Learning and the use of questioning
techniques by teachers.
7. A more beautiful question?
Berger (2014) states that the ‘average’ four-
year-old British girl asks 390 questions a day,
so why does this stop and how can we rekindle
the questioning spark? Education seems to
discourage questioning, perhaps because this
involves giving up power in the classroom.
Berger states that a journey of inquiry
culminates in change and a Why-What if-How
model can be used for creativity, innovation and
problem solving. Is this what we want
for learners in Further Education?
8. Initial Research
• Three lessons in an FE college in the East of
England were observed to see how more formal
analysis of questioning techniques could be carried
• Afterwards it was
decided that only
the first 15 minutes
of the lesson would
be used for the study. An observation proforma was
devised, piloted and redesigned.
• Lesson plans used in the observations were
scrutinised to see evidence of planning for
9. Method for Data Collection
• Seven lesson observations were completed in three
different FE organisations.
• Lessons observed included Sport, Public Services,
Forensic Science, Animal Care, Art, Literacy and
Accounting and covered different age groups of
• Three FE teachers created questionnaires to analyse
questioning approaches, to assess their own current
practice. These Surveymonkey questionnaires were
analysed to identify the teachers’ views about the
questions that they ask.
• All of the data collected was then used to create the
Questioning Tool, which three FE teachers piloted and
peer reviewed. Time did not allow for further feedback
after the lessons had taken place.
10. Classification of Questions
During lesson observations questions were classed as:
Why? How? Who?
Review Low order Nominated
Check work Completed High Order Volunteer
Check task understood Closed
Check learning understood Open
It was also recorded if one question led to another question
or lead to another student being asked (bounce).
12. Observation Results ‘How?’
Pie chart to show proportion of
questions that were asked as
high order or low order
Low order High order
Pie chart to show proportion
of questions that were asked
as open or closed questions
13. Observation Results ‘Who?’
Pie chart to show proportion
of volunteer and named
learners to answer
Pie chart to show proportion of
volunteer and named learners
to answer, with data from one
One teacher during the observation asked over 30 questions, usually to named
learners which was not considered as typical data when compared with the
other 6 observations.
15. Observation results summary
• On average, in the first 15 minutes of a
lesson 8 questions were asked
• For 66% of the questions, no thinking time
• In most cases only 20% of the questions
were asked to ‘named’ learners
• Only 3 or 4% of the questions were higher
order or open questions
• 33% of questions were used to review
learning and a further 20% to check learners
had understood as a tool to keep them
• No lesson plans showed the questions had
been ‘planned’ in advance.
16. Teachers’ views about their questions
• They all asked why questions were being used:
Assessment Involve learners
Gain attention Peer feedback
Different views Start discussions
Measure progress Connect information
• Two mentioned Bloom’s Taxonomy
• Two discussed the type of question:
Open Closed Targeted Recall
Multiple Choice Written on Lesson plan
17. Questioning Tool Design
The data collected was used to design the
Questioning Tool and incorporated concepts of:
1. Why ask the questions?
2. How will you ask them?
3. How will learners answer?
4. What type of questions will be asked?
5. Thinking time creates better answers.
6. Why not plan questions beforehand?
20. Feedback from teachers using the Tool
‘I think this will really get teachers to think about the
questions they are asking.’
‘I grew up on 6 questions (who, what why, when, where
and how) and these often guide my thought processes. I
can definitely see the utility of this tool. I can see how it
develops thinking as the class feeds back information. I'd
certainly like to use this tool to guide my lesson
‘Found your PowerPoint really useful for planning
questions on the varying subjects that I deliver and in
particular, a really helpful tool for reflecting on what
questions worked, what didn't etc., enabling me to change
my questioning techniques’.
21. Conclusion and Recommendations
• Teachers did use a lot of questions in their teaching, but
these did not always seem to be effective or for the benefit of
• Teachers were aware that their techniques involved asking
questions of themselves, but did not seem to acknowledge
that ‘planning’ would improve the success of their questions.
• Teachers could be encouraged to use the questioning tool to
improve their ‘Q&A’ until they no longer need a formula to
follow. Coaching would support this and observations could
be completed at staged intervals to measure the impact of
the change on the learners.
• Carry out more observations at the end of lessons to see if
results are similar.
• Encourage teachers to research and experiment with
questioning techniques using resources such as Teach Like a
Champion (Lemov 2010) or Evidence Based Teaching (Petty
• Berger W (2014) A More Beautiful Question
• Lemov D (2010) Teach Like a Champion Jossey-
• Petty G (2009) Evidence Based Teaching (2 edn)
Nelson Thornes; Cheltenham