Need a good question? Often a good discussion starts with a good question. But beyond the meaning attached to the question, you can also consider the cognitive demand various questions can represent. All throughout my career as an ESL teacher and tutor or as an instructional designer, I have used the Question by Cognitive Skill tool below to help inspire and calibrate questions that make sense with the learning objective. I got this tool from an eLearning conference and have never let it go. It doesn't make sense to everyone, but I find it makes perfect sense when designing learning materials. Let me know if it is useful to you. But, if you are looking for just general discussion questions, check out the to get things going section.
|Cognitive Skill||Examples of questions|
|Data collection/ recall||Observation||What do you see...?
What do you observe...?
|Recognition||Can you identify...?|
|Recall||What was said about...?
What do you remember...?
|Data organization||Comparison||How does...compare to ...?
What are the pros and cons...?
What are the similarities and differences of...?
|Classification||What elements are the same (or different)...?
What are the advantages/disadvantages?
|Ordering||What is the most important...to the least important...?|
|Data analysis||Basic parts||What are the characteristics of...?
What is the objective of...?
|Flush out relationships||How is ....related to...?
Is there any reason for...?
|Pattern recognition||What is common in...?
Is there a pattern...?
|Fact and opinion||What is fact and what is opinion...?
How is (an idea) supported?
|Clarification||How do we know that...?
When is does ... have meaning?
|Data transcendence||Explanation||What does he/she mean by...?
What is your interpretation of...?
|Prediction||What do you think will happen if...?
What will happen next?
|Conclusion||Based on ... then what can we concluded?
What are the weak points?
|Verification||What is confirmed...?
|Error and conflict detection||Are there any contradictions?
What is missing...?
|Application and improvement||Where would this apply?
How could we improve this?
|Knowledge organization||What if we considered ... according to ... criteria?|
|Summary||What are the main points...?
What is the take-away?
|Empathy||Could you accept the role of...?
How would you feel if...?
|Assessment||How would you rate...?|
|Reflection||What have you learnt about...?
How does this relate to your life?
Source: Cognitive Skill-based Question Wizard, Kordaki M., Papadakis S., Hadzilacos T., 2007