Effective Questioning

Questioning is a constant in clinical learning. Questioning your learners can:

  • arouse curiosity
  • stimulate interest in the topic
  • clarify concepts
  • emphasize key points
  • enhance problem-solving ability
  • encourage students to think at higher cognitive levels
  • motivate student to search for new information
  • ascertain students' knowledge level to aid in modifying instruction

However, not just any question will work. Effective questions are questions that are thought provoking and open-ended (not leading questions). They are why and how questions. When asking questions, it is critical to wait for the answer and not provide the answer yourself.

When working with the learners to solve a problem, it is effective to simply tell them what the problem is or the answer - they must find out or understand it for themselves. You help them do this by asking thought provoking questions.

Effective questioning also involves the skills of effective listening. This means that you must listen to the answer and suspend any judgment. As the instructor, you need to find out the learner's intent or understanding of the situation to be able to correct any misconceptions that he/she may have.




  1. Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). (1956).Taxonomy of educational objectives. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: McKay.
  2. Davis BG. Tactics for Effective Questioning, Tools for Teaching, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995, pp. 85-88.
  3. O'Connor AB, Wright-Maher M. Clinical instruction and evaluation: a teaching resource. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Inc., 2006, pp 369.