Using questions to check understanding:

Questions are an incredibly effective way to engage and challenge our students to enable them to think and learn more. It can also assist with enabling discussions in a group or classroom environment. 

Here is a little video giving some ideas on how to implement the use of effective questions during your teaching, coaching or instructing. 

Phrasing Open questions:

"I had six honest serving men

They taught me all I knew

Their names were: Where and What and When

And Why and How and Who!"

- Rudyard Kipling

5 Bums on a Rugby Post: 

Rugby Post = H, Bums are W's

Questions starting with one of these words generally results in an 'open' question:

  • How
  • What
  • Where
  • Why
  • When 
  • Who

The Question Funnel

Firstly and most importantly decide what your target is, this way you can compose your open and closed questions in a manner that will help lead your student there.

Begin with open questions, allowing the student to respond accordingly. If they do not give the response you were expecting, rephrase your question to allow the student more time to consider their answer. 

Working down the funnel, utilise closed questions to draw out specific pieces of information. Which takes us to 'Check' for understanding of the main points of the discussion. This should lead you to your intended target. 


Alongside your funnel, is the acronym LISTEN - there is little point using the question funnel if you are not actively listening to the responses given by your student.