Eliciting Student Thinking with Open-Ended Content Questions

Demonstrating the ability to elicit student thinking using open-ended content questions and increasing number of open-ended questions related to content during a whole-class discussion.
Made by TeachLivE

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The teacher makes effective use of open-ended questions to elicit student thinking.

Method Components

Teacher increases the frequency of open-ended questions by 50% from his or her first session in the TeachLivE simulator to the last.

What are open-ended questions?

An open-ended question is a content question to which a number of different answers would be acceptable; an open-ended question has no parameters and does not constrain the student’s response.


“What is your personal definition of technology?”

“How does technology help us in our everyday lives?”

“What else?”

“How else?”


“When was the first computer invented?”

“What technology did the telephone replace?”

“Which is more essential: a computer or a phone?”

Take note: Yes-no questions that are intended as open-ended questions are still technically closed-ended questions, because they allow students to respond with a simple Yes or No.

“Does anyone know what technology is?”

“Do you have any ideas?”

“Do you want to expand on that?” or “Is that right?”

“Anything else?” or “Anybody else?”

“How many of you think so?”

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Teachers in the 2013 TeachLivE National Research Project significantly increased the number of open-ended questions they asked after four 10-minute sessions in TeachLivE (Straub, Dieker, Hynes, & Hughes, 2014). On average, teachers increased from 5.7 to 9.8 open-ended questions per 10-minute session, a 72% increase.
  • Teaching Works High-leverage Practice (HLP 3): Eliciting and Interpreting Individual Students’ Thinking. Teachers pose questions or tasks that provoke or allow students to share their thinking about specific academic content in order to evaluate student understanding, guide instructional decisions, and surface ideas that will benefit other students. To do this effectively, a teacher draws out a student’s thinking through carefully chosen questions and tasks and considers and checks alternative interpretations of the student’s ideas and methods.
  • Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching 2013: Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques (3b). The teacher uses open-ended questions, inviting students to think and offer multiple possible answers.
  • Marzano’s Instructional Category 11: Helping Students Elaborate on New Information. The teacher asks questions that require inferences about the new content but also requires students to provide evidence for their inferences.
  • Brophy and Good’s Handbook of Research and Teaching (1986). When teaching complex cognitive content or when trying to stimulate students to generalize from, evaluate, or apply their learning, teachers will need to raise questions that few students can answer correctly (as well as questions that have no single correct answer).


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

In order to show competency in asking open-ended questions, you must plan appropriately, following the steps outlined by TeachLivE. You must complete all four planning steps and respond in writing to part 1 before beginning part 2. Part 2 (Evidence generation) will occur in the simulator and be followed by a brief written reflection in part 3. You must receive a passing score for all parts to earn the micro-credential.

Planning for the TeachLivE Open-ended Question Activity:

  1. Choose a lesson in which you facilitate a whole-class discussion. You do not need to teach the entire lesson, only a 10-minute segment. In this segment, please focus on eliciting student thinking, not teaching content. Your purpose is to learn what the students believe about the content.
  2. Express interest in this micro-credential by emailing TeachLivE at teachlive@ucf.edu with Open-ended Question Micro-credential Application in the subject line. Please send the lesson plan and your Skype address. Be sure to indicate the grade level of the lesson.
  3. We will email the Open-ended Question Micro-credential Application from TeachLivE. The application will include part one of the micro-credential process (see below), which you must submit prior to your time in the simulator.
  4. Complete the application and return it to teachlive@ucf.edu.
  5. You will receive a time and date to sign on to Skype for a one-hour TeachLivE session to earn your micro-credential.
  6. For more information about the simulator, please visit http://teachlive.org/.

Part 1. Overview questions to prepare for simulation

(200-word limit for each response)

  • What are appropriate questions for your lesson that will allow you to better understand student thinking?
  • Of the questions you might ask students, based on your lesson segment, what are the best questions to ask in an open-ended format to elicit student thinking? Why are these the best questions?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

To earn this micro-credential, you must increase the frequency of your open-ended questions by 50% from the first TeachLivE session to the last. Each simulation will last approximately 10 minutes. An observer will collect data on the number of open-ended questions you ask during each session, and you will be provided with the number you asked after each session. You will earn your micro-credential when you increase your open-ended questioning by 50%.

You will have one hour of TeachLivE classroom simulation to demonstrate this competency.

Part 3. Teacher reflections

In this portion, you will provide a thoughtful written reflection on the effectiveness of the lesson segment you taught in the TeachLivE simulation. You will be asked to make a thoughtful and accurate assessment of your ability to elicit student thinking with open-ended questions. Provide a written reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as guidance: (200 word limit for each response)

  • To what extent were you effective in eliciting student thinking using open-ended questions? Please provide specific examples.
  • What specific alternative actions could you have taken related to questioning, and how do you think students would have responded?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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