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Questioning to stretch pupils’ thinking in a secondary classroom

Questioning is a common feature of classroom teaching. Brualdi’s (1998) research suggests that many teachers ask more than 300 questions per day! In order to support our pupils’ progress, we need to think carefully about the way that we construct and use questions in the classroom.

Cotton’s (1988) research illuminates some helpful evidence about effective questioning: 

  • Verbal questions are more effective than written questions
  • Lessons where pupils are posed with questions have a greater impact than lessons where pupils are not
  • Asking questions frequently is particularly supportive of fact-learning

To get the most out of questioning we need to make sure that we have established a learning culture where pupils are comfortable and encouraged to both answer and ask questions. By planning our questions in advance and using them more visibly and explicitly, we can create an environment where pupils feel comfortable answering questions and two-way feedback between pupils and teacher is ongoing (CUREE 2018).

As you watch this video of classroom practice from Ark Greenwich Free School and MEA Central, you’ll be provided with a series of prompts and pauses for reflection throughout. Use these prompts individually, or with colleagues, to contemplate the teacher’s practice. 

Once you’ve watched the video, take some time to reflect on what the teacher has done, how they’ve done it, what they might have done differently, and how this might influence your own practice whether you’re establishing or revisiting your questioning approaches.


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