Thinking About Questions
In Analytic Processes for School Leaders, Cynthia T. Richetti and Benjamin B. Tregoe look at how questions can clarify thinking. The authors explain that questioning is "critical for effective issue resolution" because asking questions allows us to "clarify and frame messy or ill-structured problems" and "identify and gather missing information" to arrive at conclusions.
Studies show that there is a positive correlation between frequency of questioning and increased student learning, say Richetti and Tregoe. But what kind of questions are educators asking? The authors point to a study in which elementary school teachers reported that they "use questions in the classroom mainly to assess the effectiveness of their teaching, diagnose areas of difficulty, and check recall." According to Richetti and Tregoe, "the survey results suggest that teachers see questions primarily as vehicles to assess what the students know and how well they have been taught—not to stretch students' thinking or force them to think in new ways."
The authors urge teachers to rethink how they use questions in the classroom. "Content questions are a necessary part of our questioning repertoire, whether we're problem solving or not," say Richetti and Tregoe. "They are, however, not sufficient; they have limitations. To rely primarily on content questions is equivalent to trying to build a house with only a hammer." The authors call for educators to try using problem-solving questions to stimulate thought and actively engage students, while teaching them to think and ask critical questions.
Read Chapter 2.