Organizational Communication

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Questioning Skills for Leading Training Program Discussion

        Develop questions at the right (cognitive) domain level

        Ask question - Be clear. Be sure trainees have the resources to answer.

        Pause 7 15 seconds usually (gauge reactions)

        Call on someone


1.    know what you want to find out

2.    generate interest in advance

3.    use short questions to establish a base of knowledge and use open-ended questions to create dialog

4.    keep questions short

5.    ask questions that anticipate the next step


Don Clark's Tips on "Questioning"
quoted from Instructional System Design - Implementation Phase - Chapter V.

<> September 12, 2006

"Use the Ask, Pause, Call (APC) method.

  • Ask the question.
  • Pause to allow learners to think. Normally about 7 to 15 seconds depending upon the difficulty of the question. Look at the learners. Do most of them look perplexed or do they look comfortable with the question? The questions you ask should help you to gauge the effectiveness of your instruction. Also, note that the pause time can be even longer (this quietness in the classroom can be quite disturbing to many), which will normally force them to answer because of the quietness. However, if you have to do this too often, you need to reexamine your training methods.
  • Call on someone to answer the question. Calling on someone after asking the question allows all the learners to think. Even if a learner has no idea of the answer, he is thinking of a way not to be called upon, such as looking busy by taking notes or fidgeting with something. At least you have his brain cells firing neurons and warming up!
Some hints for effective questioning are:
  • Know what you want to find out.
  • Generate interest in advance.
  • Use open-ended questions to elicit dialog.
  • Keep the questions short. Long questions are confusing.
  • Ask questions with answers that will suggest a course of action.
Trainers tend to ask questions in the "knowledge" category 80% to 90% of the time. These questions are not bad, but using them all the time is! Try to utilize higher order level of questions that require much more "brain power" (thought) and more extensive and elaborate answers.

The other categories (beyond Memory) as defined by Bloom's Taxonomy are:

  • Comprehension: Involves the understanding and ability to interpret and communicate the meaning of given variables.
  • Application: Implies the use of knowledge to solve problems.
  • Analysis: Requires a learner to examine material or relationships of information of constituent parts and to arrive at some solution or response
  • Synthesis: Requires the learner to combine elements and parts into a unified entity.
  • Evaluation: The most complex of all questions. It involves making judgments, appraising, choosing, assessing, measuring, and critically inspecting some idea or object and determining its relative value or worth."


last updated 11/8/2016