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 Table of Contents 
Year : 2004  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 73  

Teaching tips - questioning

Chief, Directorate of Medical Education College of Medicine, King Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2012

Correspondence Address:
Khalid Al-Umran
Chief, Directorate of Medical Education College of Medicine, King Faisal University, Dammam
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 23012053

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How to cite this article:
Al-Umran K. Teaching tips - questioning. J Fam Community Med 2004;11:73

How to cite this URL:
Al-Umran K. Teaching tips - questioning. J Fam Community Med [serial online] 2004 [cited 2022 Jan 20];11:73. Available from:

Questioning is a fundamental method of teaching. Posing certain questions can help learners develop a greater degree of understanding. In fact, questioning "opens" the learner's thinking and checks misunderstanding.

The Purpose of Questioning

  1. To arouse interest in the subject
  2. To test the previous knowledge of the subject
  3. To motivate the students through allowing them to demonstrate success
  4. To help understanding through getting the students to rephrase in their own words
  5. To promote discussion and help give new insights by challenging or guiding questions
  6. To strengthen (consolidate) learning by asking the students to summarize
  7. To stimulate critical thinking through encouraging making conclusions
  8. To facilitate diagnosis (or evaluation) of students strengths and weakness
Types of questions

There are two categories of questions: closed questions, which can be answered with a yes, or no, and open questions, which aim to elicit more expansive replies and encourage further discussion. While closed questions only check knowledge or understanding, open questions stimulate high order thinking (i.e. reasoning, judgment, problem-solving). Prefixing a question with How, Why, Explain, Compare, What if or Predict (provoking words) make it more likely to be an open-ended question.

Guidelines for Effective Questioning

  1. Focus on objectives (think about the purpose of the question)
  2. Ask only one question at a time
  3. Use interpretative and problem-solving questions rather than questions requiring recall
  4. Braden ideas by using questions that involve comparison or different viewpoints
  5. Wait for some time, between asking and expecting an answer, to allow students to think
  6. If students do not respond rephrase or clarify the question
  7. Use verbal encouragement (e.g. Go on) and non-verbal encouragement (e.g. Smiling) to get further response
  8. Give negative feedback to wrong answers by focusing on the response (not the student)


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Journal of Family and Community Medicine | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 05th September, 2010