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2. Encouraging Critical Thinking During Discussions

Knowing this repertoire of openended questions will push your students to exercise their critical thinking skills during class discussions.

General Clarification Questions Would you say a little more about that? Why did you say that? What do you mean?

Main Point Questions Let me see if I have this right. Is this your main point? I take it that your main point is….. Just what exactly is your thesis?

ReasonSeeking Questions Could you say a little more about your reasons for believing that? Perhaps you could elaborate on your reasoning… Why did you say that? Why do you believe that? Do you have reasons for that/those conclusion(s)?

Questions Seeking Relevance Between the Reasons and the Conclusions I want to understand you. Could you elaborate on the connection between the reason and the conclusion? Are you assuming …..? I’m not sure I see the bearing of this point on your conclusion…. Would more evidence help? How would you get at it? How does this support the conclusion? How is that relevant?

Questions Seeking Clarification of Meaning I’m not sure how you are using this word. Could you give an example of…..? Could you give a negative example of….? Would this be an example of…..? Perhaps we are talking past each other. Are we using this word in the same way? What do you mean by……? By…. do you mean…….?

adapted from Robert H. Ennis, Critical Thinking (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996).


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