Unit Four: How Does an Instructor Design an Effective Question?

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Unit Four: How Does an Instructor Design an Effective Question?

Purplearrowbullet.gifLearning Objectives

By the end of this unit, students will be able to identify when it is appropriate to use a higher cognitive question and when it is appropriate to use a lower cognitive question.


Kathleen Cotton disusses the relationship between higher cognitive questions and lower cognitive questions in the classroom.

There are two sorts of questions: those that require higher-level thinking skills and those that demand lower-level cognitive skills. To learn more, please visit Higher and Lower Cognitive Questions.

Developing an effective question is the key to encouraging critical thought and deep-level understanding. Read the following webpage to learn how to effectively develop a question [1].

Now that you know how critical higher-order questions are in the classroom, how can you encourage higher-order thinking in your classroom? Click on Encouraging Higher-Order Thinking to find out!

Greenarrowbullet.gifLearning Activities

1- If you were to teach a 3rd grade class about the life cycle of a butterfly, what sort of question would you present?

2- If you were to teach a 10th grade class about executive and legislative powers the government holds, what sort of cognitive question would you ask your students?

3- Prepare a lesson plan that you could use in your classroom and identify, based on the material being presented, what questions could be asked by the teacher to facilitate effective learning. Divide your questions into two categories: higher cognitive questions and lower cognitive questions. To which sort of learner would you ask each?

4- Open the link to the following worksheet, Wordbullet.pngFile:Questions Worksheet.doc. Decide which of the questions are Higher Cognitive Questions and which are Lower Cognitive Questions.

5- Based on your reading of King's article, how would you develop your classroom environment so that it would encourage higher order thinking skills and would further cognitive development?

6- In the User Talk: Abigail Moskovits section, post an answer to the following question. You must respond to at least one other classmates' post. From your personal experience, discuss how effective you think learning with teacher-generated questions is. Do you think that there is still a place for lecture learning in the world of education? What about other teaching and learning methods?


While it would seem that higher cognitive questions would be more advantageous to a learning environment, that is not always the case. Different learning populations and different topics being taught demand different styles of questions. It is only once a teacher is familiar with what and to whom he is teaching, that a teacher can develop effective questions to promote critical thought in his classroom.

Arrowbullet.pngClick here to return to Effective Questioning in the Classroom.

Arrowbullet.pngClick here to return to Abigail's Portfolio Page.