Asking The Right Questions


Adapted from a Workshop on ‘Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom’.


Asking students the ‘right questions’ not only elicits depth to their explanations but is a powerful tool in gaining an insight into their thinking and understandings.


Focus                                                                                   Counter-examples

What is it that puzzles you?                                                 Can you think of a case or a time where that

What did you find interesting?                                             wouldn’t work?

                                                                                             When wouldn’t that happen?


I didn’t quite understand you.                                               Consistency

Could you explain to me?                                                        Is that the same as what you said earlier?

                                                                                              Or have you changed your mind?


Why did you say that?                                                           Speculation

What reasons do you have?                                                   Can anyone think of how that might have

Why do you disagree with…?                                                  happened?


Connections                                                                         Relevance

How does that fit with what…said?                                        How does that help us?                                                                       

Is that like what…said?

It sounds like you                                                                  Clarification

agree/disagree with …Is that right?                                     What do you mean by that?

                                                                                              Can anyone help…explain that more clearly?


How is that different from                                                   Alternatives

what…said?                                                                            How else could we think about that?

                                                                                             What if someone said…?

Implications                                                                          There are some people who think that…what

What can we work out from that?                                          do you think?

What does that tell us?                                          

What follows from what…said?                                             Summarizing                                            

                                                                                             What have we found out?

Assumptions                                                                        Where have we got to?                                                               

How do you know?                                                                 Well, what have we decided?

Why do you think that?                                                         Have we answered…questions?                                                 

How did you work that out?

What have you based that on?                                              Listening Strategies

                                                                                             Did I understand you to say…?

Testing                                                                                 Am I right that you said..?

How could you work if that was true?                                   Tell me if I’m wrong but I think you said…Is that


Information Gathering

What do we know about that?                                               I’m not the expert here

                                                                                             I’m not sure.

Examples                                                                              I’m not sure what do you think?

Can anyone give me an example?                                           

                                                                                              Prepared by: Lorraine Kennedy November 2003