‘Research tell us that teachers are asking up to several hundred questions a day’ (Barry, K. & King, L. 1998, p.144). So what are these questions, what do they look like, sound like and most importantly what are our students benefiting from them?.
The NSW Institute of Teachers’ Professional Teaching Standards, ensures teachers are communicating effectively with their students through:
Element 4; Aspect 4.1.2 Demonstrate a range of questioning techniques designed to support student learning.
Blooms Taxonomy looks at questioning as categories in relation level of thinking that is required to answer, ranging from low order to high order. During the 1990’s Lorin Anderson, revised Bloom’s original Taxonomy and relisted the categories as follows:
|Category:||The student will:|
|Understand||Explain concepts or ideas|
|Apply||Use the new knowledge in another situation|
|Analyse||Differentiate between items that form a whole|
|Evaluate||Justify a decision or a course of action|
|Design||Create new products, ideas or ways of seeing things.|
(Alford, G., Herbert, P. & Frangenheim, E. 2006. pp176-224)
Too often or not teachers are keeping the level of questions they are asking their students toward the lower level order. We as teachers need to be aiming toward progressing and challenging our students through their learning. The use of higher order questions will enable us to achieve this. It can be quiet difficult to think of these higher order questions on demand or on the spot, so to ensure we do ask these question to our students, it is essential we plan for them.
On my recent visit to my placement school, I have noticed my colleague teacher implementing the different categories of Blooms Taxonomy. She generally starts with the lower order questions and moves toward the higher order questions. An example of this is through the student’s recent research assignment on explorers. There were a range of questions throughout the assignment; some involved simply identifying different facts, explaining concepts etc. One question in the assignment asked the students to discuss the habits of mind their explorer adopted during their expedition. The teacher explained to me, this question would test the students; some would really excel in this section and some would leave it blank. My colleague teacher continued by saying some of the students within the class would struggle with answering this question as you cannot necessarily type the question into Google to obtain the answer; they have to think of it themselves. This is agreed by Barry, K. & King, L. (1998) when stated ‘A higher cognitive level question involves some independent thinking by students’. (p.145)“Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”–Josef Albers
Alford, G., Herbert, P. & Frangenheim, E. (2006). Bloom’s Taxonomy Overview. In Innovative Teachers’ Companion, (pp 176 – 224). ITC Publications.
Barry, K. & King, L. (1998) Developing instructional skills. In Beginning Teaching and Beyond, (3rd Ed), (pp.144-167). Social Science Press.