PROBING QUESTIONS promote thoughtful, deep and exploratory responses to questions and can be used by teachers to promote stretch and challenge in their lessons.
They are used as follow-up questions to encourage students to expand their thinking beyond their initial response through enhancing, clarifying or justifying their thoughts.
Probing questions can be used at any stage in a lesson.
They can be used whenever the teacher wishes to stretch and challenge students to explore a topic in more detail.
Probing questions are most commonly verbal, used in real time, during question and answer sessions, in response to student feedback.
However, probing questions can also be anticipated prior to the lesson and provided as written questions on handouts or presentations to prompt deeper thinking from students.
There are some effective questioning techniques which can be adopted in lessons to support the teacher’s use of probing questions, such as:
These questioning techniques, as others like them, provide a framework for questioning which both the teacher and students can use to enhance their question and answer sessions.
Whenever there is an opportunity to ask probing questions the teacher should aim to do so.
This may be during a starter activity to explore the existing knowledge of the students to inform the lesson ahead, as part of a plenary activity to check the level of understanding of the students, or at any other point in the lesson where probing students for more detail and depth in thinking will support learning and progress.
It is also the teacher’s responsibility to encourage students to use probing questions with each other and with themselves. This can greatly enhance group work through peer to peer challenge and develop students as effective independent thinkers.