Tuesday, September 20, 2011


TOPIC: Is this Question Open or Closed?
TYPE: Standalone
TIME: 2 Hours
AGE GRADE: 16Yrs +
This activity is designed to guide learners to learn:
 The difference between Open and Closed Questions;
 How to develop and address Open and Closed questions

The teacher should start with an opening lecture to explain the concept of Open and Closed questions. Appropriate examples of both types should be used to ensure the students are able to differentiate between the two.
The class should then being divided into small groups and one person designated as a scribe to jot down the points of their discussions.
The teacher should then write out 2 – 3 topics/subject upon which questions would be formulated.
Each group should be assigned the task of creating 2 closed questions and 2 open questions on each topic/subject.

Suggested subjects/topics include:
 Education
 Why is important to be educated? - Open
 Is it important to be educated? - Closed

 Why should we forgive those who offend us? - Open
 Should we forgive those who offend us? - Closed

 How can we improve the number of girls who attend schools?
 Is it important to educate girls?

 Is respect important?
 In what ways can we show respect to elders?

The various groups should be given at least 15 minutes to brainstorm and formulate their questions, and then a representative from each group should read out the questions they created.
Upon reading out the questions and telling the class if they classified it as an Open question or a Closed question, the other members of the class should be asked to comment on the group’s classification, and if there is any objection, the objector should proffer his/her reason(s) and offer corrective suggestions.
The assessment should be seamless, allowing for corrections as the activity progresses. Instead of a “CORRECT or WRONG” assessment, it would be best if the teacher used guided questions to lead the students to understand the “WHY?”, if the classification of their question(s) is wrong.
For example, if a group classifies “Why do we go to school?” as a closed question (probably on the assumption that the only answer is ‘to learn how to read and write’); in this situation, the teacher could gvuide them with questions like “Don’t you think we also learn some other things in school apart from learning how to read and write?”. Such a question can get the group to think deeper and thus be able to attach a deeper meaning to attending school. If the first question sinks, the teacher could follow up with a question like “what are the other things you learn in school”. Etc.
In the course of carrying out this activity, it is expected that the students will understand that there are important things to be considered when crafting questions; they’d learn to ask questions that will produce answers that satisfies the questioner and possibly open up new angles to the issue being discussed, and thus lead to new discoveries.


  1. Ibrahim,

    I think this activity will not only get students to learn how to formulate open ended questions but it will get them thinking about the answers to the questions as well. Is there a way that students can try out their questions outside of the classroom so they have an experience of the benefit of a well written, open-ended question?

  2. I'm in the habit of always injecting snippets of the Power of Good questions into my lessons and tell my students that the answer they get to a question and how the answer is presented, all depends on how the question is crafted. I always encourage them to craft their questions in ways that'll ensure they get the right answers. Both inside and outside the classroom. And though i don't have an independent way of monitoring how they use these skills outside, the changes i have noticed in the class suggests to me that they are using the skills outside as well.


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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi (mallamibro@gmail.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.