The Power of Questioning
By Lindsey Kjoller
As teachers we know the benefits of supporting students with small groups or individually based on specific learning needs. The ability to masterfully guide students’ thinking and foster a learning environment of curiosity and discovery, is the magic of powerful coaching in these small groups. In this section of the Distance Learning Playbook, Coaching and Facilitating, Fisher, Frey, and Hattie dive into the importance of questioning and prompting in successful coaching and facilitating. Second only to teacher talk, questioning is the number one teaching strategy used by teachers.
John Hattie has done extensive research on effect size, ranking 138 influences that are related to learning outcomes from very positive effects to very negative effects. Hattie identifies 0.4 as the hinge point, or the point in which an influence impacts a students growth about a year. Questioning has an effect size of 0.48. Teachers ask a lot of questions, in fact between 100 and 350 a day (Brualdi, 1998; Clinton & Dawson, 2018; Livin & Long. 1981; Mohr, 1998). If we can incorporate metacognitive strategies into these questions, the effect size increases to 0.55.
Being specific with the types of questions we use can help guide students towards meaningful learning. When students are unable to answer questions, teachers can use prompts to focus on the cognitive and metacognitive processes that support students. There are several different types of prompts teachers might use to support student thinking including prompts that:
Similarly, simple cues can artfully guide a student's thinking. Types of clues include:
Teacher talk moves that focus on revoicing, repeating, reasoning, adding on, and think alouds are another way teachers might thoughtfully push students with their cognitive and metacognitive thinking. Although these teacher discourse moves were designed to support student engagement in mathematical discussions, they are general enough to apply in many different content areas.
If you are interested in learning more about the art of questioning and metacognitive strategies, consider diving into more from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in the Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework.
Curriculum & Instruction