Sarah Longshaw has been a science teacher for over 20 years and has developed educational resources for a variety of providers. She is an active member of the Association for Science Education (ASE) and holds Chartered Science Teacher status. Here she shares her experience how to make the most of asking questions in the classroom.

by Sarah Longshaw
6th September 2020

Teachers ask a lot of questions, but not all questions are the same. We have questions which:

  • actively involve students in the lesson
  • increase motivation or interest
  • evaluate students’ preparation
  • check on completion of work
  • develop critical thinking skills
  • review previous lessons
  • nurture insights
  • assess achievement or mastery of goals and objectives
  • stimulate independent learning.

Questions can be classified – open or closed; knowledge or application; analysis or evaluation – and the ones we choose will depend upon their purpose, as well as the age, ability and experience of students.

Good questions require planning. When are we going to use a question? Which type? How do we want to receive answers? All this before we even consider the question itself.

Many GCSE papers now contain questions which are broken into component parts and which increase in complexity. Considering common command words – what they mean and how they relate to the question being asked – is also important. As is using questions to provide a scaffold to support students to reach an answer.

These 20 ideas suggest different ways to employ questions in the classroom and beyond. There are many more: after all science is all about finding the questions to answer!

(This article was first published as a newsletter on 13/11/18.) 


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