Questions can "enhance student learning by developing critical thinking skills, reinforce student understanding, correct student misunderstanding, provide feedback for students, and enliven class discussions" (Caram and Davis 2005, Inviting Student Engagement with Questioning.Kappa Delta Pi Record.)
Bloom identified and defined 6 question categories:
Knowledge: remember, memorize, recognize, repeat, list. These are the who, what, when, where, how questions. Examples: Who were ....? What is a ...? When did the...? How did ...? Label...
Organizing: compare/contrast, transferring, classify, organization and selection of facts and ideas. Examples: Compare the ... Contrast the ... Classify the...
Application: problem solving, applying information, use of facts, rules and principles, show, solve. Examples: How is ... an example of ...? How is ... related to ...? Why is ... significant?
Analysis: subdividing, sort, categorize. Examples: What are the parts or features of ...? Classify ... according to ... Outline/diagram ... How does ... Compare/contrast with ...? What evidence can you list for ...?
Synthesis: create, design, develop, synthesize, hypothesize, devise. Example: What would you predict/infer from ...? What ideas can you add to ...? How would you create/design a new ...? What might happen if you combined ...? What solutions would you suggest for ...?
Evaluation: evaluate, development of opinions, judgements or decisions. Do you agree that ...? What do you think about ...? What is the most important ...? Place the following in order of priority...? How would you decide about ...? What criteria would you use to assess ...?
When planning a unit of study make sure to include higher level thinking questions, which you have designed from Bloom's 6 categories.
If you want to check the category the questions you are asking fall into, ask a colleague to observe you and write down all the questions you ask. Then sort them into management and content related. Sort the content related questions into Bloom's 6 categories.
Caram and Davis say that teachers have a tendance to "ask questions in the Knowledge category 80% to 90% of the time. These questions are not bad, but using them all the time is." Teachers need to incorporate higher order level questions into their instruction, which will require deeper thinking and more in depth responses.
"There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that]. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms]. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions." ---Buddha, Source
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