Asking effective questions in classroom settings (5 tips)

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The present blogspot will be based on the question “what are the effective questions that can be asked in a classroom setting?”.  It will describe questioning as an effective intervention in the teaching and learning process. Asking questions effectively means your question doesn’t threaten the other person’s appearance or well-being. The questions need to be framed in a way that gains appropriate answers.

Effective questioning in classroom settings motivates the students to learn better. It enhances their cognitive abilities and encourages brainstorming in the students. The teaching and learning process turns out to be more interactive due to the effective questioning techniques. 

How to ask effective questions in classroom settings?

In order to utilize questioning as an effective classroom strategy, the teachers should consider the following strategies:

  • Placement and timing of the question
  • Cognitive structuring of the question
  • Wait time of question
  • Probing and reinforcing
  • Teacher training 
  • student attitudes

Placement and timing of the question

The placement and timing of the question plays a vital role in the teaching and learning process.  Frequent questioning during a class discussion is positively associated with the learning outcomes of the students. However, increasing the number of times a teacher asks questions would not enable or promote the learning of complex and new material.

It is always better  to ask a question before a lesson is presented to the adult students or the students in high school and the university students. However with the young students it is always advisable to ask questions once the lesson has been presented.

If a question is not rightly placed or times, it tends to break the flow of the learning process and hinders the learning outcomes.

Cognitive structuring of the question

The cognitive structuring of the questions as per the mental abilities of the students is very necessary. Questions are divided into lower cognitive questions and higher cognitive questions. 

The low cognitive questions are those that do not involve the higher cognitive abilities of the students. Such questions are merely based on the recall of the verbatim of the teacher or some lines or descriptive information from the lesson. Such questions are more effective with the students of lower grades. They are mostly used when the learning goal is based on facts and figures.

The high cognitive questions are questions that are based on interacting with the students utilizing their higher cognitive abilities. The students have to brainstorm, analyze, evaluate, inquire and manipulate the available information to answer such questions. Such questions are used by teachers of middle school and high school students to promote their cognitive abilities and enable them to interact with each other and formulate answers to the questions on the basis of available information. 

Wait time of question

The wait time refers to the time that the teacher allows to elapse between asking a question and before getting the answer from the student. 

For low cognitive questions, the ideal wait time is three seconds. Giving the students a wait time longer than 3 seconds or less than 3 seconds for a low cognitive question kills the purpose of asking the question. Teachers mostly use less wait time for slow students as compared to students who seem more capable of grasping information. 

Whereas for high cognitive questions “longer the wait time, better the learning” is believed. Since the high cognitive questions involve executive functioning of the students, the students manipulate the information and brainstorm the possible answers. Thus longer wait times for high level cognitive questions give ample time to the students to analyze the question better.

Probing and reinforcing

The probing and reinforcing technique for effective questioning calls for the clarification related to questions. The reinforcement in the form of acknowledgment of correct answers and appreciating correct answers is related to better learning outcomes among the students. 

Redirecting the questions for better understanding of the students and praising them upon getting correct answers is often positively associated with increased achievement and learning outcomes among students.

Teacher training 

Training of the teachers is another crucial factor for the effective questioning in the classroom.

Teachers training for effectively asking questions in the domains of timing and placement of the questions, cognitive structuring of the questions and wait time of the question is an important step that aids the teachers to equip themselves with the theories and knowledge of effective questioning in classroom settings. 

Teachers training enables the teachers to get trained professionally by achieving the necessary skill set required for effective questioning in classroom settings. Teachers training for effective questioning is positively related to improved learning outcomes and academic achievement among students.

Student attitudes

It is of immense importance for the teacher to have an idea about the attitudes of the students about the topic being taught. If the topic seems boring, it would be better to ask some high cognitive questions so that the students interact with each other to find answers.

Student attitudes need to be considered when framing the place, time and cognitive structure of the questions.

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Guidelines for effective classroom questioning

Some guidelines for the teachers to maximize learning outcomes through effective questioning are as follows:

  • Incorporate questioning as a regular strategy for maximizing the learning outcomes
  • Ask young students questions that are related to low cognitive functioning.
  • Ask middle school or high school students questions that are based on higher cognitive abilities. 
  • For young aged students, ask questions after introducing and presenting the lesson.
  • For students above the primary grades, ask questions that need to gather, manipulate, analyse, arrange, organize and sort the answers.
  • Ask questions that enable the students with high cognitive abilities to draw inferences based on their learning.
  • While asking questions and probing in the details, keep the tone firm.
  • Try not to criticise while questioning the students
  • Try not to get personal when asking questions from the students.
  • For low cognitive ability students, ask questions that are based on concrete facts and figures.
  • Try to appreciate the students who take initiative to answer the questions.


The current blog was based on effective questioning techniques in the classroom settings. We learned that effective questioning is necessary to maximize the learning outcomes and strengthen the teaching and learning process. The blog discussed various guidelines and strategies necessary for effective questioning in the classroom settings.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Asking effective questions in classroom settings

What is the purpose of asking effective questions in classroom settings?

The purpose of effective questioning is to enhance the learning experience for the students, make lessons more interactive for the students and promote learning outcomes.

What is the relationship of effective questioning and learning outcomes?

The relationship between effective questioning and learning outcomes is positive. Questioning enables the students to recall the learned material and analyze the information relevant to the question to formulate the answer. 

How do you ask effective questions?

Inorder to ask effective questions, teachers need to get trained to place the questions at the appropriate time during the lecture, structure the question as per the cognitive abilities of the students and use efficient wait-time to get answers from the students.


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