‘Finding out about others: the skill of questioning’, in Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge.

Reading review:

The main aim of the chapter was to emphasise and highlight the importance of questioning and how it may be used, in different situations, in an effective manner. The chapter provides many tips and examples of the ways teachers should ask questions to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. It also indicates what methods of questioning are frowned upon due to their limited or invasive nature.


There were many key themes within the chapter:

1.The purpose of questions

  • In a school setting, teachers usually ask questions to children to check that they have an understanding of what they have been taught.
  • There are many possible goals one may have when asking a question. Some of these include; to communicate in discussions, to obtain information or to initiate interaction and so on.

2.Types of questions

  • The chapter outlined two main types of questions, open and closed.
  • Teachers are encouraged to use more open questions in the classroom
  • Closed questions can be used in areas like maths due to the limited possibility of many answers

3.Effects of leading questions on children

  • It is agreed upon by many authors, including Pipe et al. 2007, that “leading questions have a distorting effect upon children’s answers…”
  • It was made clear throughout the paragraph that asking an open question can provide you with much more information

4.Related aspects of questioning

  • Structuring
  • Pausing
  • Distribution
  • Responses


Smith et al. 2006 claim that teachers mostly use closed questions because time is limited and information needs to be gathered. This is backed up by the findings of Siraj Blatchford and Manni (2008:7), who found that “94.5% of all questions asked by early childhood staff were closed questions.”

One part of the reading I disagreed with was the way in which a female social worker conversed with a four-year-old child. (Box 5.3 of the reading).

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