Computer and pencils on a desk

A problem!

How do we stop learners from copying in online learning?
We can't!
So we need to ask different kinds of questions so that they have to think - they can't just copy.

Why ask questions?

(adapted from “Classroom Questioning” by Kathleen Cotton)
  • To develop interest and motivate students to become actively involved in lessons
  • To evaluate students' preparation and check on homework or seatwork completion
  • To develop critical thinking skills and inquiring attitudes
  • To review and summarise previous lessons
  • To nurture insights by exposing new relationships
  • To assess achievement of instructional goals and objectives
  • To stimulate students to pursue knowledge on their own

Types of questions: Activity

  • Open this collaborative Google Doc (click here).
  • Fill in a question of your own in each row in the last column.
  • Do not delete other people's answers. Add your questions to what others have already written.
  • Read your colleagues' questions.
  • Make sure you are logged into Google so you don't appear anonymously, otherwise, please add your name.

Guidelines for classroom questioning

  • (adapted from “Classroom Questioning” by Kathleen Cotton)
  • Incorporate questioning into classroom teaching/learning practices.
  • Ask questions which focus on the important elements in the lesson; avoid questioning students about irrelevant matters.
  • When teaching students factual material, keep up a quick instructional pace, frequently posing lower cognitive questions.
  • With older and higher ability students:
    1. ask questions before (as well as after) material is read and studied.
    2. ask a majority of higher cognitive questions.
    3. teach students strategies for drawing inferences.
  • Question younger and lower ability students:
    1. ask questions only after material has been read and studied
    2. ask a majority of lower cognitive questions. Structure these questions so that most of them will elicit correct responses.
  • Regarding wait-time (the time you wait from when you ask the question to when you try something else because nobody has answered yet):
    1. Keep wait-time to about three seconds when conducting recitations involving a majority of lower cognitive questions.
    2. Increase wait-time beyond three seconds when asking higher cognitive questions.
    3. Be particularly careful to allow generous amounts of wait-time to lower ability students.
  • Use redirection and probing as part of classroom questioning and keep these focused on important, relevant elements of students' responses.
  • Regarding students' responses to recall answers:
    1. Avoid vague or critical responses to students’ recall answers.
    2. When students give recall answers, use praise sparingly and make certain it is sincere, credible, and directly connected to the students' responses.

Ways to ask questions

Optional additional reading: 21 Ways to Check for Student Understanding” by Saga Briggs   |   University of the Free State South Campus   |   +27 51 451 1024 / +27 78 508 0848


Access (UAP)

+27 51 401 9111 (Option 2)

Open Distance and E-learning Programmes
Deborah Pietersen
+27 51 505 1394

Short Learning Programmes
Keneilwe Mogotsi

Kovsie Phahamisa Academy

South campus webpage1

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.