As a PE teacher, effective questioning technique is an essential skill which serves numerous purposes. These include:
In PE literature the topic of questioning has generally focused on the categorization of convergent and divergent questions and the use of Bloom’s taxonomy for promoting higher-order thinking skills in students. Convergent (or closed) questions generally only have one correct answer which the students should have been taught e.g., “What is a backcourt violation?”. Whereas, divergent (or open) questions allow for more variable and detailed responses e.g., “How could you improve your performance?” [1-5].
In terms of cognitive complexity, convergent questions usually require lower-order thinking skills whilst divergent questions can stimulate higher-order thinking . Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives provide a useful framework for planning questions which promote higher-order thinking skills (table 1) .
Table 1: Bloom’s taxonomy of higher-order thinking skills used for questioning
It is important as a PE teacher to plan for both convergent and divergent questions, as lower-order questions encourage students to recall factual knowledge such as recalling the location of muscles or specific teaching points. Whilst higher-order thinking questions might ask students to design a series of exercises that uses the specified muscle [1, 7]. It is worth noting that you should avoid asking too many divergent questions as they will slow the pace of the lesson . Therefore, an effective strategy is to focus on the lesson objectives and plan a combination of questions (i.e., 2 closed, 1 open) which scaffold upon each other .
No matter how experienced or inexperienced you are as a teacher, asking effective questions is a skill that can be developed and fine-tuned throughout your teaching career . If this is a skill that you wish to develop, we recommend that you include relevant questions in your lesson plans and familiarize yourself with the strategies and common mistakes below.
Table 2. Strategies for effective questioning and common mistakes [2, 3, 4]
Questions can be asked at any stage during the lesson and doesn’t always have to be in front of the whole-class. A more beneficial approach is to circulate the group and ask individuals and small groups questions to serve a particular purpose, this may be: to focus attention; to invite inquiry; to assess knowledge and understanding; develop self- and peer-assessment; or to lead pupils to be mindful . Bailey (2001) related question type to the various stages of the lesson (table 3).
Table 3: Types of questions related to stage of the lesson
Therefore, in order to skillfully use and ask pertinent questions in Physical Education lessons it is important that you understand and plan a combination of open- and closed- questions which promote the appropriate level of thinking for the different abilities in your class. Print and laminate some of the tables and info above and place them on the wall behind your desk, and try spending 3-minutes thinking about and writing some questions for your lesson. Do this for a handful of lessons in a week and you will be surprised how much better your questioning becomes. But remember to keep it short and punchy!