It’s All in the Way You Ask It

Asking questions is a natural aspect of communication, but also one of the most important tools that we have at our disposal. Every question demands a response – except in the case of requests, commands or suggestions.

Let’s Focus on Referential Questions

These require us to provide information, give an opinion, explain or clarify. They often focus on content and require follow-up questions.

  • What do you think about….?
  • Have you ever….when/where …..?
  • If you had…..what…..?
  • What kind of….?
  • How do you…..?

The best referential questions are those that are “open ended” that is, they are broad, may have multiple answers, and require a higher level of thinking. Open-ended questions are ideal for developing skills such as inferring, predicting, verifying and summarising. “Closed questions” have more narrowly defined correct answers which can be recalled from memory and require little reflection or originality.

During the lead-in to a group-work session, referential questions form the basis of brainstorming a topic and generating interest. Responses may be recorded as a mind map on paper or a whiteboard.

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