In order to elicit specific responses, a teacher may consider whether he/she is asking closed or open questions. A closed question is one in which there are a limited number of acceptable answers, most of which will usually be anticipated by the instructor. An open question is one is which there are many acceptable answers, most of which will not be anticipated by the teacher. Higher-order questions tend to be open and encourage divergent thinking:
These questions ask students to apply essential knowledge to new settings and contexts. For example: How could you apply these grammar and usage principles to your essay? How could you demonstrate the use of this concept? How would you illustrate this process in action? What can we generalize from these facts?
These questions ask students to dissect key information and analyze essential concepts themes, and processes. For example: How are these characters alike and different? What is an analogy that might represent this situation? How would you classify these literary works? What are the major elements that comprise this sequence of events? What are the major causes of this situation?
These questions require students to formulate a holistic summary of key ideas, make inferences, or create new scenarios. For example: What would you hypothesize about these unusual events? What do you infer from her statements? Based upon these facts, what predictions would you make? How do you imagine the space ship would look? What do you estimate will be the costs for the project? How might you invent a solution to this ecological problem?
These are open-ended questions that require students to formulate opinions in response to ideas presented in a print or non-print (e.g., art work, audio-visual) medium. Students must support their opinions with direct textual evidence. For example: What does Frost mean when he says: "I have miles to go before I sleep?" Why does the photographer emphasize only his subject's eyes?
These questions require students to formulate and justify judgments and criticisms based upon clearly-articulated evaluative criteria. For example: Why did you decide to choose that course of action? How would you rank these choices? How might you defend that character's actions? How would you verify that conclusion? What is your critique of that work of art?