are a number of types of questions that learners will ask at the
Layer (Information Seeking) and they include Fact finding,
Evaluative, Diagnostic, and Hypothetical questions.
Fact Finding Questions:
questioner needs to acquire some specific facts relevant to the context
or issue and these questions target the acquisition of those facts.
E.g. “What is the capitol of New Zealand?”
“Who invented the light bulb?”
“What are some of the incidents that occurred on
Captain Cook’s 3rd voyage?”
questioner is seeking to identify opinion, belief or point of view.
E.g. “What would do you think would be a good Christmas production?”
“What do you think is an appropriate punishment for acts of
“What do you believe about creation and evolution?”
Diagnostic or Comparative questions:
questioner is trying to obtain information that will assist them
to compare two items or to make a judgement.
E.g. “What are the similarities between ----- and -----?”
“What are the possible outcomes of -----?”
would be the best time to --------?”
questioner asks a question bound by a range of factors to limit the
possible answers to a specific context.
E.g. “If you had to choose a goalie for a soccer team what three
major skills would you look for?”
“If we had to stop using plastic bottles what options are
there for hygienic containers?”
“What would be the possible problems if we changed the wood
Questions from this Secondary layer have also been identified as ‘fat’
or ‘skinny’ questions, ‘open’ and ‘closed’ questions.
are often identified as questions which involve complex thinking
requiring much explanation and detail in their answers.
Open questions will usually
contain what, why, how, or describe as their questioning words.
Closed questions are often defined as questions that can be answered
with a single word or a short phrase. ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘maybe’ are
examples of single word answers. These questions are used to obtain
questions basically are ‘open questions’ renamed. There seems to be
little to differentiate between open and fat questions.
Further information can be gained from:
Skinny questions similarly seem to be just a different name for ‘closed
Beyond this are also
Question types that can be drawn from Bloom's Taxonomy
(Benjamin Bloom (ed)., Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook I
Cognitive Domain (New York: David McKay Co., 1956))
Below are the
levels of the taxonomy, a brief explanation of each one, and examples of
questions which require students to use thinking skills at each level.
- "Knowledge - Remembering previously
learned material, e.g., definitions, concepts, principles, formulas.
- What is the definition of
- What is the law of supply and
- What are the stages of cell
- Comprehension - Understanding the
meaning of remembered material, usually demonstrated by explaining
in one's own words or citing examples.
- What are some words which are
commonly used as adjectives?
- What does the graph on page 19
- Explain the process of
- Application - Using information in a
new context to solve a problem, to answer a question, or to perform
another task. The information used may be rules, principles,
formulas, theories, concepts, or procedures.
- Using the procedures we have
discussed, what would you include in a summary of Bacon's essay?
- How does the law of supply and
demand explain the current increase in fruit and vegetable
- Based on your knowledge, what
statistical procedure is appropriate for this problem?
- Analysis - Breaking a piece of
material into its parts and explaining the relationship between the
- What are the major points that
E. B. White used to develop the thesis of this essay?
- What factors in the American
economy are affecting the current price of steel?
- What is the relationship of
probability to statistical analysis?
- Synthesis - Putting parts together
to form a new whole, pattern or structure.
- How might style of writing and
the thesis of a given essay be related?
- How are long-term and short-term
consumer loan interest rates related to the prime rate?
- How would you proceed if you
were going to do an experiment on caloric intake?
- Evaluation - Using a set of
criteria, established by the student or specified by the instructor,
to arrive at a reasoned judgment.
- Does Hemingway use adjectives
effectively to enhance his theme in The Old Man and the Sea?
- How successful would the
proposed federal income tax cut be in controlling inflation as
well as decreasing unemployment?
- How well does the Stillman Diet
meet the criteria for an ideal weight reduction plan?"
Further Question Types:
are further question types that could be identified here, with many of
the definitions being contestable and debatable. What is important, is
that these questions, however they are labelled, have one the primary
goal which is to gain specific information that will be utilised for one
or more of a range of purposes that include:
fact and opinion
bias or prejudice
inferences and assumptions
positions and theories
someone else’s argument or position
range of options
of these possible uses are important aspects and skills of independent
learners, but all require valid and relevant information as their base.
If poor, insufficient, irrelevant or invalid information is utilised as
the base for any of these learning applications the learning itself is
affected and may be invalid or weak as a result. The skill of
questioning is the foundation that lays the base of valid and relevant
information. The skill of questioning is the foundational tool of
learning, and a person who is an effective questioner has a major
are three major categories of questions (Rhetorical, Requests and
Inquiry) used in daily life. Inquiry questions, which can be classified
into two major types, are the ones that drive learning and thinking.
Learners use one type of Inquiry question (Fertile, Essential, Rich and
Reflective) to set the context, boundaries and direction of their
learning. Learners then utilise the second type of Inquiry question to
locate the information that will be the foundation of their learning. A
basic skill of learning is the ability to ask good information seeking
questions because relevant and valid information is the fuel of
learning, understanding and problem solving.