Handout #5

Types of Questions and Questioning Technique

Types of Questions

Learning to use engaging questions is an excellent rehearsal consideration. Questioning is one strategy to enhance student engagement and participation throughout the lesson.

Questioning students during instruction is a formative way to assess student learning. Throughout the lesson, you should use questions and other formative assessment methods to assess student comprehension and application of content, and their readiness to move to deeper or more critical levels of learning.

We will look at four 4 major question types during this course: Assessment, Content, Procedure, and Open/Closed Questions. There are many other types of questions we can use during instruction.

Assessment Questions

Training and education developers design questions into lesson plans so instructors can assess student learning and see if students are making progress. These questions can address both the content and procedures of the lesson.

Content Questions

Content questions are used to determine student understanding of new content. Once again, the training and education developer develops these questions when he/she is planning the content of the lesson. Instructors are encouraged to add to those questions.

There are two types of content questions – they can be either specific or summary type.

A specific content question asks the Who, What, When, Where Why and How questions. For example, “What strategies can an instructor use when planning to teach difficult-to-understand material?”

Procedural Questions

Use procedural questions to determine if the student knows the correct sequence for a procedure for performing a task. The instructor may want to do this before the student actually performs the task. The instructor should have demonstration equipment and materials at hand when asking these questions.

One example of a procedure knowledge question would be, “What are the steps for digging a two-man fighting position?” Select a student, have them come forward and outline the procedural steps on the flip chart or dry erase board.

Open-ended and Closed-ended Questions

Open-ended questions require higher levels (more sophisticated) of thinking by students regarding the learned material. Answers require a more comprehensive response that may highlight multiple possibilities for addressing the question. The responder cannot answer with a Yes/No.

Closed-ended questions typically have short answers that are right or wrong (Yes/No). Answers require recall of material and a low level of knowledge. You can phrase both procedural and content questions as open or closed questions, but (in the case of closed questions) you must be careful that the students answer accurately. In order to check on student learning sufficiently, use a mixture of questions throughout instruction.

Questioning Technique: Ask, Pause, Call, Evaluate (APCE) is one questioning technique that may be used during instruction. It is a very basic but effective framework for questioning that allows for the presentation of the question, a wait time, a method to recognize students after the question is asked and a method for providing feedback to students. This framework may be best used with larger groups, but can be applied in smaller groups during direct instruction. A skilled instructor can apply this technique regardless of the types (content, procedural, etc.) or categories (Blooms, Socratic, Costa, etc.) of questions.


Ask the question. In order to ask effective questions, instructors must be familiar with the material, equipment, and media. Avoid misleading questions and make sure that students have the capability to answer.


Pause to allow all learners to think about their response. The pause serves two purposes, to prevent spontaneous “sounding off”, and to allow thought. Normally about 5 to 15 seconds of wait-time is appropriate depending upon the difficulty of the question. The pause time can be even longer if you are using distance-learning technology. You may have to learn to be comfortable with silence, and to ignore outbursts. Scan the room, and read the students’ body language. Be ready to restate the question.


Do not always call on someone who has raised his or her hand to answer the question. Students must learn to pay attention and think because you may call on them at any time.


Evaluate the response(s) you receive by applying immediate feedback. Avoid responding using a “yes” or “no.” Instead, develop the habit of reinforcing the appropriate response. If a student answers correctly, paraphrase their response. Redundancy will help all students understand the correct answer. If a student answers incorrectly, acknowledge their response, ask another student to help, or provide the correct answer after students continuously answer incorrectly. Instructors may reinforce the first student response and redirect to another student for a response, or seek other responses to the same question.

Creating Good Discussion Questions:

Question “Level”
A low level question is one that requires only rote memory or simple rephrasing of materials. Such questions evoke memories of classroom drill and tend to turn adult learners off.
What are the main characteristics of outcomes focused instruction? / In contrast, a high level question is one that requires the operations of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Would outcomes focused instruction be as beneficial if intangibles were not involved? Why?
Question “Clarity”
An unclear question either contains several questions or is interspersed with background information. This makes it unlikely that learners will feel that they know what is being asked of them or that learners will hear the question as stated.
What is an outcome and its significance to the contemporary operational environment as well as its significance to tangibles, intangibles, and context? / In contrast, a clear question is singular in nature allowing learners to focus on one issue at a time and increasing the likelihood that learners have heard the question as it was stated.
Example: What is the significance of outcomes focused instruction?
Question “Focus”
An unfocused question is wide open and therefore requires time to organize a good answer.
What do you think of outcomes focused instruction? / In contrast, a focused question is one that directs the learner to specific approaches or to specific areas of the subject matter as a means of arriving at an answer. This helps learners narrow their focus and arrive at an answer more quickly.
What are some of the outcomes from Initial Entry Training (IET)?
Question “Response”
A closed question implies that there is a single right answer to a question, making it risky to answer and requiring more time to organize an answer.
What is the main focus of outcomes focused instruction? / In contrast, an open question indicates that there are a number of plausible answers, making it safer to venture a viewpoint and allowing for more spontaneity in offering responses to the question.
What are some of the benefits of outcomes focused instruction?

Tip #1: Questions that generate good discussions are:

•high level




Tip #2: Carefully choose the “level” of the question ensuring that the learner has the necessary information and skills to answer it.

CFDP-IC Lesson 5 HO5-1