Studies show (Petty, G. 2006) that, as teachers, we tend to ask questions which are knowledge based 80% – 90% of the time. Whilst these questions can be effective in helping pupils to learn facts and knowledge, higher order questions require much more thought and can lead to more extensive and elaborate answers. Using strategies like Bloom’s Taxonomy to inform our questioning can promote the development of higher order thinking.

Essentially Bloom identified 6 major categories or levels in which all cognitive and intellectual responses occur. The table below shows these categories in order of simplest level to most complex.

Studies also show that pupils of all abilities do best when they are regularly encouraged to use higher order reasoning through the use of careful questioning.

Good questioning is a crucial tool for checking understanding and ensuring learning has taken place. At its best it can encourage active learning and inform future learning and teaching. Questions should be used that give pupils thinking time and that encourage all pupils to be actively involved in the question. Questions should also be accessible by those with different personality types and be fairly distributed across the class.