Questions are what we often use to help our students think through a problem or issue. If our questions are not designed carefully, we most likely will not get the results we intend from our students. Different types of questions accomplish different tasks. Fact-finding, interpretive, and reflective questions, for example, all serve different purposes and require different thinking skills. We can organize these questions into two basic categories: closed questions and open questions.


Closed questions that ask students to understand facts and procedures are important, but if students do not have a larger concept to connect those facts to, the importance of those facts will not be understood and the facts will not be retained or used in a meaningful way.

The new science of learning does not deny that facts are important for thinking and problem solving. Research on expertise…demonstrate that experts’ abilities to think and solve problems depend strongly on a rich body of knowledge about subject matter (e.g., Chase and Simon, 1973; Chi et al., 1981; deGroot, 1965). However, the research also shows clearly that ‘usable knowledge’ is not the same as a mere list of disconnected facts. Experts’ knowledge is connected and organized around important concepts… Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, How People Learn.

Effective open-ended questions are especially important when using technology in learning. Instead of using computers to copy and paste information, students should use higher-order thinking skills to dig deep, analyze facts, make well-founded conclusions, and see the bigger picture.
Intel Teaching Thinking With Technology Course
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