Questioning for Divergent Thinking

Following up a students’ responses in ways that encourage deeper thinking and, therefore, develop divergent thinking


Some ideas for this:

Ask students to repeat their explanation Can you just say that again?
Invite students to elaborate Can you just say a little bit more about that?
Challenge students to offer a reason Can you explain why it that works?
Cue alternative responses Can you suggest another way of doing this?
Support with non-verbal interest Nod head, rotate hand to indicate you want more…
Encourage students to speculate What would happen if…?
Make challenging statements Someone in this group said … were they right?
Allow rehearsal of responses Try out the answer on your partner first
Encourage students to ask questions Would anyone like to ask Pete a question about that?
Ask students to think aloud Can you go through that step by step
Encourage students to make connections Can you remember something else we did like this…?
Thinking aloud with students Let’s think this through together…

As educators we need to plan for effective question.

Plan how you will introduce the questioning session.

Silence will be hard for your to bear in the classroom but students can sometimes find it confusing or even threatening. Explain why there will be times of quiet, for example…


Plan how you will establish ground rules

If you are going to use the ‘no hands up’ rule , you will need to explain this to the students. Some teachers ask their students to sit on their hands in order to break the habit. Some students are attuned to be brief and quick when sharing, you could introduce a minimum length rule e.g. you answer must be a minimum of 5 words.


Plan the first question that you will use

And think about how you will continue. You can’t plan for this exactly as it will depend on the answers that students give but you might plan to take one answer and then ask others what they think about the reasoning used. Or, you might take two or three different answers without comment then ask the next student to say what is similar or different about the answers.


Plan how you will give thinking time

Will you allow 3-5 seconds between asking a question and expecting an answer? Will you ask the students to think – pair – share, giving 30 seconds for talking to a partner before offering an idea in whole class discussion? Will you use another strategy?


Plan how and when you will intervene

Will you need to intervene at some point to refocus students attention of discuss strategies they are using? Have one or two questions ready to ask part way through the lesson to check their progress and learning.