27 November 2021

Whole School CPD Focus:

Feedback and Questioning

Walkthru Cluster:

Feedback and Questioning


‘Probing Questions’ plus the Teacher Workbook

Starting Point

Questioning and Feedback - YouTube





‘Probing Questions’ is a strategy that can be developed and employed occasionally.  However, it can also be used as a matter of routine.  In using Probing Questions, questioning moves from surface question and answer sessions, to entering into a genuine dialogue built upon a series of exchanges about what students know and understand.  The follow-up discussions resulting from Probing Questioning can enrich and deepen understanding, encouraging learners to key into their schemas, making connections where appropriate.  Probing Questioning relies on high level listening skills and skill in making connections within and between answers offered; this Walkthru is a game-changer in challenging all those answering questions.


Sherrington suggests that, ‘well-chosen questions can support students to make links between ideas, to rehearse explanations to support long-term memory, to connect abstract and concrete examples and to identify knowledge gaps and misconceptions.’ As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, the identification of ‘gaps’ is all the more pertinent. 


So how can we adopt Probing Questions within our classrooms?



Stage One: Ask a Student a Question.  Over the last half-term, we have explored a range of questioning techniques: Cold-Calling, Think-Pair-Share, Check for Understanding to name but a few.  Using one of these techniques, Sherrington suggests inviting students to think about the material and to prepare to respond.


Stage Two: Follow-up with a Probing Question.

“What's the connection between A and B? Is that always true or just in this case?”

“Is there another example? What are the main reasons?”

“What would be the most important factor?  If we change variable C what happens to variable D? How does that idea explain this phenomenon?”


Stage Three: Listen and Probe Further.  This stage relies heavily on the teacher’s concentration and listening skills. Behaviour for Learning has to be perfect at this stage to allow the teacher to listen and delve into the student’s understanding.  At this point the teacher will continue to explore the student’s schema, listening carefully and responding accordingly.

“OK, so if that’s true what about this? Is there another way you can explain it?”

“If A is true and B is false, what might we say about C? In what ways is that similar or

different to the previous example?”


Stage Four: Ask Another Student to Continue. 

The rhythm of the questioning between Teacher T and students A, B and C might be:




Sherrington suggests that each student engages in a probing exchange.


Stage Five: Check for Understanding from Others.   After a probing exchange, Sherrington suggests that the teacher should, logically, Check for Understanding (see last week’s Teaching and Learning Digest).  “What did you understand from Joe’s response?” Clearly, this is useful as a check for student and teacher and supports the idea that all students should listen in when a probing dialogue is taking place.


This Walkthru is key in ensuring that we provide depth, as well as breadth, in our learning.  It allows the curriculum intent to be delivered effectively to all. 


CPD Cascade

RLO – Cold-Calling Reflections



RHO – Sherrington’s Checking for Understanding


7 Principles of Effective Feedback (RHO)

from Teacher Toolkit


Mini-whiteboard tips (RHO)


Sexual Harassment and Gender Stereotyping

Free online training to tackle sexual harassment, language and gender stereotyping.


National College

Remember that there are subject-specific watchlists available in National College

Posted by Rachel Long

Category: Teaching and Learning Digests

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