Questioning Strategies to Improve Understanding of Conic Sections in Math Class

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I chose to focus on how the use of questioning strategies in a whole class setting improves student understanding of conic sections because I struggle with using open-ended questioning. I see how “yes” and “no” questions do not usually cause students to think, since the answer to the question is often in the question. However, from my own experience as a teacher, simply asking an open-ended question about a new topic can cause frustration. If the students do not have any idea of how to answer the question, they simply stare and look confused. Even so, I do believe that open-ended questions can be very beneficial as an aid to learning if they are asked properly.

Research Question

How does the use of questioning strategies in a whole class setting improve student understanding of conic sections?

Literature Review

There are many different types of questions. The questioning strategy the teacher adopts will depend on the subject, topic, student comprehension and foreknowledge, and the goal of the lesson. The teacher’s questioning strategy can help students obtain understanding and see connections as they work toward solutions to problems. (Inspire, 2011)

“One of the most striking aspects of teaching is that the teacher’s speech consists of questions” (Manouchehri & Lapp, 2003, p.563). Each question the teacher asks should be strategic toward the goal of student learning. The teacher must determine beforehand what student response is desired and structure the questioning accordingly. Questioning can also aid the educator by assessing the students’ comprehension and understanding, thereby allowing the modification of instruction if necessary (Chappell & Thompson, 1999).

The form, content, and purpose of the que...

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...earned through this research that the questioning strategy I employ must be tailored to fit the goal of the lesson. My strategy must assess prior knowledge and constantly monitor student learning throughout the lesson. My use of proper questioning will facilitate deeper understanding of concepts and will enable the students to grow and expand their knowledge.


Chappell, M.F. & Thompson, D.R. (1999). Modifying our questions to assess students’ thinking. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 4(7), 470-474.

Inspire (2011). Capacity Building Series: Asking Effective Questions in Mathematics. Retrieved from

Manouchehri, A. & Lapp, D. (2003). Unveiling student understanding: The role of questioning in instruction. The Mathematics Teacher, 96(8), 562-566.
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