The Importance of Asking Good Questions

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese proverb

As educators, encouraging questions from students is a way to gauge student learning, increase student participation, and encourage active learning.  Sometimes students are shy or maybe they don’t want to appear “uncool” so they don’t speak up.  Having a Q & A time is valuable before a lesson begins and after it’s complete.

Good discussion revolves around the use of open-ended questions.  These are questions with a little vagueness that do not prompt or suggest a specific answer from youth.  Avoiding yes/no questions (closed-ended) provides a space for discussion and dialogue.  Open-ended questions encourage a more thoughtful response.  They are helpful in discovering more about a topic and can enhance a lesson.

Examples of Open Ended Questions:

  • What do you think is the most important holiday?
  • What is your favorite flavor of pie and why?
  • Do you enjoy traveling?
  • What do you like about summer?
  • What can you share about your family?
  • Which highway traffic sign is the most important?

Examples of Closed Ended Questions:

  • Do you enjoy 4-H?
  • Are you ready for Christmas?
  • When is your birthday?
  • Do you have siblings?
  • What is your favorite subject in school?
  • What does a stop sign mean?

Do you recall Bloom’s Taxonomy?  In 1956, Benjamin Bloom, published a structure for youth to obtain knowledge.  The basic understanding of the structure is that knowledge is gained from simple to complex and concrete to abstract.


Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching (graphic)

Check out the awesome handout below developed by the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University.  The handout would be a nice addition to a lesson so that when Q & A rolls around an agent can utilize these action words when asking questions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s