How To Use Questioning Skills In Your Training Courses

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How To Use Questioning Skills In Your Training Courses

You’ve likely heard of the need for “questioning skills” in order to be successful in your training sessions. In a nutshell, questioning skills are a vehicle that you use to help your delegates learn more in your training session.

This is a short guide to using questioning skills within your training courses.

Feel free to blog, tweet, email, and pass this post to others … but please do let people know where you read this guide. Thanks!

Let’s dive in …

Chapter 1: How To Integrate Questioning Skills Within Your Training Courses

Chapter 2: How To Apply Bloom’s Taxonomy To Your Training Courses

Chapter 3: How To Use Simple Questions In Your Training Courses

Chapter 4: Wait Time, Think, Pair & Share

Chapter 5: Alternatives To Questions

Chapter 6: Online Tools You Can Use Let’s dive right in.

Chapter 1: How To Integrate Questioning Skills Within Your Training Sessions

Given my long background in learning and development, there was never any question that my purpose in these posts would be to share my experience to benefit other people managers and training professionals.

In this section, I’ll answer the question: “How to integrate questioning skills into your training sessions?”.

I’ll also show you why questioning skills are still so important for training professionals and people managers.

In particular, what are questioning skills and what they should be used for?

Let’s get started.

The use of questions within training sessions

Start out by asking yourself a question. What are questioning skills and what they should be used for?

If you don’t know the answer instantly, don’t worry. Often the things that we do every day, and that we take for granted, can be the hardest to explain.

You might be surprised to hear that the use of questions in training sessions to improve learning is nothing new and dates back to the Socratic method of Ancient Greece.

Let’s dig a little deeper …

According to Benjamin Bloom, and his colleagues, there are six levels of cognition:

Knowledge: rote memorization, recognition, or recall of facts

Comprehension: understanding what the facts mean

Application: correct use of the facts, rules, or ideas

Analysis: breaking down information into component parts

Synthesis: a combination of facts, ideas, or information to make a new whole

Evaluation: judging or forming an opinion about the information or situation

Chapter 2: How to apply Bloom’s taxonomy to your training sessions

Ideally, each of these levels should be covered in each course and at least one objective should be written for each level.

Depending on the nature of the training course that you are delivering, a few of these levels may need to be given more emphasis than the others.

To help you prepare for any training course I have provided examples below of objectives written for each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy and activities and assessment tools based on those objectives.

Common key verbs used in drafting objectives are also listed for each level for your convenience.

Level: Knowledge

Level Attributes: Rote memorization, recognition, or recall of facts.

Keywords: list, recite, define, name, match, quote, recall, show, identify, label, recognize.

Example Objective: “At the end of this course, participants will be able to define problem-solving”.

Example Activity: Have participants list different definitions of problem-solving Example Assessment: Use the following question on an exam or homework. “what is problem-solving?”

Level: Comprehension

Level Attributes: Understanding what the facts mean.

Keywords: describe, explain, paraphrase, restate, interpret, paraphrase, differentiate, summarize, interpret, discuss, compare.

Example Objective: “At the end of this course, the participants will be able to differentiate between two types of problems”

Example Activity: Group participants into pairs and have each pair think of different types of problems that they could experience within a work environment.

Example Assessment: Assign the participants to write a simple description of different types of problems

Level: Application

Level Attributes: Correct use of the facts, rules, or ideas.

Keywords: calculate, predict, apply, solve, illustrate, use, relate, modify, demonstrate, determine, model.

Example Objective: “At the end of this course, the participants will be able to complete a force field analysis of a named problem situation”.

Example Activity: After presenting the different problem-solving techniques have participants form pairs and complete a force-field analysis.

Example Assessment: On a test, define a force-field analysis.

Level: Analysis

Level Attributes: Breaking down information into component parts.

Keywords: classify, outline, break down, categorize, analyze, organize, contrast, deduce, discuss, plan, diagram, illustrate.

Example Objective: “At the end of this course, the participants will be able to contrast cause and effect diagrams and a SWOT Analysis”

Example Activity: Present the participants with different problem-solving techniques and then have them explain in detail the differences between a cause and effect diagram and a SWOT Analysis.

Example Assessment: Give the participants an assignment that asks them to explain in detail the differences between a cause and effect diagram and a SWOT Analysis.

Level: Synthesis

Level Attributes: Combining parts to make a new whole.

Keywords: design, formulate, build, invent, create, compose, generate, derive, justify, modify, report, develop.

Example Objective: At the end of this section of the course, the participant will be able to create a personal model for effective problem solving within a large manufacturing setting”.

Example Activity: Tie discussions to the underlying similarities between different problem-solving approaches regardless of the place where the problem occurs.

Example Assessment: Give the participants a project where they have to create a personal model for effective problem-solving within a large manufacturing setting.

Level: Evaluation

Level Attributes: Using questioning skills to judge the value or worth of information or ideas.

Keywords: choose, support, relate, evaluate, determine, criticize, defend, judge, grade, compare, contrast, argue, justify, support, convince, select, evaluate.

Example Objective: “At the end of the course, the participant will be able to determine what problem-solving technique suits their work environment”.

Example Activity: Have different groups of participants solve the same problem using different methods, then have each group present the pros and cons of the method they chose.

Example Assessment: On a test, ask participants to describe in detail what problem-solving technique suits their work environment best. And, why?

Chapter 3: How To Use Simple Questions In Your Training Courses

Learning is an active process.

Trainers must work at encouraging participants to think on their own and construct their own explanations. This will allow participants to maximize their learning potential.

Ask participants to seek out the evidence: What kind of evidence did you find? What makes you think that…?

Ask participants to explain: How would you explain this? What were some of the causes that led to…?

Ask questions that relate to concepts, ideas, and opinions: How does that compare to…? What did other people discover or say about …?

Ask questions that encourage your participants to predict: What will you do next? What will happen if you…? What could you do to prevent that?

Chapter 4: Wait Time, Think, Pair & Share

Wait Time

One of the most effective techniques that can be used in conjunction with questions is known as ‘wait-time’. This is the length of time that is left between asking the question and looking for the answer. In most training sessions the wait time is 1-2 seconds. If no answer is received by this time, the trainer will normally intervene with the answer or with stronger prompts. Research shows that waiting longer than 3 seconds will result in better answers and increased motivation for the participant.

Think, Pair & Share

For more challenging questions, ask participants to take some time to think of the answer. Ask them to then pair with the person next to them and share their answers with the larger. This allows for a different type of ‘wait time’ and strengthens the learning process available to the whole group.

Chapter 5: Alternatives To Using Questions

One of the points I really want to stress in this free guide is that there are alternatives to using questions and that these alternatives are the key secrets to delivery success.

Below, I offer some simple examples that highlight the purpose (e.g., invite delegates to elaborate) and example invitations to elaborate.

Purpose: Invite delegates to elaborate.

Example: ‘Would you say a little more about that.’ ‘I am not sure I’m certain I know what you mean by that.’

Purpose: Speculate about the subject under discussion.

Example: ‘I wonder what might happen if …’

Purpose: Make a suggestion.

Example: ‘You could try …’

Purpose: Reflect on the topic Perhaps we now have a way of tackling this next time.

Example: ‘Let’s bring this all together …’

Purpose: Offer extra information.

Example: ‘It might be useful to know also that …’ I ‘I think that I have read that …’

Purpose: Reinforce useful suggestions.

Example: ‘I especially liked … because …’

Purpose: Clarify ideas.

Example: ‘We can tell this is the case by …’

Purpose: Correct me if I’m wrong.

Example: ‘But I thought we had agreed that …’ ‘So now perhaps we all believe …’

Purpose: Echo comments/summarise.

Example: ‘So, you think …” Jane seems to be saying …’.

Purpose: Non-verbal interventions.

Example: Eye contact, a nod or raised eyebrows to encourage extended responses, to challenge, or even to express surprise.

Chapter 6: Online Tools You Can Use

To conclude, here is a quick list of some of the online tools that you can use to deliver to practice your questioning skills. Please note we are not affiliated with any of these providers and the list is provided for your convenience.

Keynote – Keynote makes it easy to create stunning and memorable presentations and comes included with most Apple devices.

Prezi Unlike screen sharing, Prezi Video lets you interact with your visuals on screen.

LinkedIn SlideShareShare what you know and love through presentations, infographics, documents, and more.

Zoho Show  – Bring your team to a secure and collaborative workspace where everything is available to everyone in real time. Create, collaborate, and get work done, securely.

FlowVella  – Blow your audience away in one interactive presentation experience.

LibreOffice Impress  – LibreOffice is a free and powerful office suite and a successor to (commonly known as OpenOffice). Its clean interface and feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your productivity.

Ludus – collaborative presentations for creative teams.The presentation tool that combines creativity with simplicity… and a bit of magic.

PowToon  – Powtoon is the visual communication platform that gives you the freedom to create professional and fully customized videos your audience will love.

Speaker Deck – Turning your decks into beautiful online experiences can be a pain.

Visme Create visual brand experiences for your business whether you are a seasoned designer or a total novice.

WPS Presentation – free and complete office suite.

authorSTREAM – the best way to share presentations on the web.

Genially – Create presentations, infographics, and other stunning content by yourself or with your team.

Canva With thousands of professional templates, images, and quality content to choose from, get a headstart on bringing your best ideas. It’s an expert deck designer, so you don’t have to be. Make your business look brilliant, keep your team forever on brand, and save hours on pitches you’re actually proud of.

Ahaslides – Make interactive presentations for awestruck audiences. The perfect tool for lessons, training, meetings, and quizzes.


That’s it for our guide to questioning skills in your training courses.

And, please don’t forget to share this guide.

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For over 25 years, Catherine has been a leading content creator. She has a Master's and a Bachelor's degree. Founder @oakinnovationtraining. I have a true passion for online education and have spent the last 27 years creating multiple best-selling courses and teaching thousands of delegates.