A simple Overview of
Broadly speaking there
seems to be three main categories of questions that we use in normal
They are Requests,
Rhetorical, and Inquiry Questions.
These are the questions
used when a person seeks permission, or seeks assistance from someone.
“Can you lend me $20?”
“May I leave the room?”
“Am I able to take my
holiday from Dec 12 to January 12?”
The questioner knows the
answer, is not seeking an answer, but has some alternative motive behind
the question. For example they may be trying to make a point,
demonstrate their own knowledge, or corner another person in an
“What time do you call this?”
“Why are you so stupid?”
“Are you kidding me?”
Rhetorical questions come
in a number of forms, one of which is the Disguised Imperative.
These are primarily a command disguised as a question. The question
highlights the demand and usually requires an action rather than an
E.g. “Do we wear our
muddy shoes inside the classroom?”
“How do we act
when we want to ask a question?”
“What do we take
with us to the library to put our books in?”
An ‘Inquiry’ or
‘Information Seeking’ question is one posed by the questioner to obtain
needed information within a specific context, aspect, concept, issue, or
problem. These are the questions that power learning.
In this simple overview
there are two layers of Inquiry question.
The primary layer consists
of a question that opens or defines the area of learning. It may pose a
problem, identify a need, or establish a concern/issue for
investigation. Basically it sets the scene and provides a specific
context for learning. These primary questions have been labelled by a
variety of names including ‘Rich Questions’, ‘Essential Questions’,
‘Fertile Questions’, and Reflective Questions’.
Within the field of Inquiry
Learning these primary questions may be teacher generated, negotiated
between teacher and pupil, or learner generated. There are a number of
issues that need to be considered when creating these primary questions.
Firstly the questions
obviously need to be carefully structured and it takes skill and
practice to create good questions at this level.
Secondly it is the
teacher’s responsibility to ensure that questions are supported by
relevant and valid information sources that are suited to the reading
and comprehension of the learners before the inquiry is embarked on. We
know that risk taking and failure are integral parts of learning but it
is important that learners experience success as they build their
knowledge and learning skills. A major aspect of supporting learners is
to ensure that whatever the context of learning is, relevant information
is available, at appropriate reading levels for the learner/s. This is a
major aspect of teacher preparation and teachers should do everything
possible to ensure that pupil’s inquiry learning is well supported by
level and context relevant information.
There is a secondary layer
of Inquiry questions that are the central core to learning. These are
the information seeking questions a learner asks to obtain specific
information that will be utilised to fuel their learning.
Independence in learning
requires the learner to be an effective questioner, and to do this they
need to be able to ask effective questions at this secondary layer of
There are a number of types
of questions that learners will ask at this level and they include Fact
finding, Evaluative, Daignostic, and Hypothetical questions.
Questions from this level
have also been identified as ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’ questions, ‘open’ and
There 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