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Indicator 27 – Higher Order Questions

Delivering Instruction

Developing Thinking Skills

Indicator 27 - Higher Order Questions UETS 2d., 3b., 3c., 4a., 4c., 7d., 7e., 7f.

Effective teachers ask higher-order questions to promote learning. These types of questions require students to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information instead of simply recalling facts. Higher-order questioning encourages greater student involvement in classroom activities and develops thinking skills.


  1. Use higher-order questions when you want students to:
    • Compare and contrast
    • Determine cause and effect
    • Give evidence to support a hypothesis
    • Systematize or analyze information
    • Develop criteria to judge the merit of problems, solutions, products or ideas
    • Support an opinion or judgment
    • Integrate information into different contexts or generalize across contexts
  1. Effective teachers make sure students have enough background information to respond successfully to higher order questions. For example, if you ask students why the United States are a republic, be sure:
    • To provide background historical, economic, social information.
    • Establish a procedure by which students can research this information independently.
  1. Avoid "yes-no" questions that lead to guessing and eliminate the opportunity for teachers to ascertain whether students understand the material.
  2. Incorporate student responses into the discussion by making them part of a question:
    • "Andrew, what do you think Sarah was suggesting when she said...?"
  1. Ask process-oriented questions by having students explain their opinions or answers.
  2. Provide wait time so all students have time to formulate answers, before calling on a student to respond.

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