Here is the conversation representing a usual questions asked during a lesson on shapes.

Teacher: What is this?

Student: It is a triangle.

Teacher: How many sides it has?

Student: three!

Teacher: Can you draw a triangle in your notebook?

Student: Yes

Teacher: Great!! Let’s move to next shape.


After 3 weeks and 2 different chapters, during revision,

Teacher: How many triangles are there in the figure?


Student: Ahhhhh L…….!!!

This represents a question asked during a test and the response of kids is the result of huge gap which can be seen between what was taught and what is asked.

This gap is usually considered by parents as ‘Out of Course’, but at a closer look it is the gap in the learning and as a matter of fact this gap is nothing but result of rote learning.

Since childhood each one of us has this gift of curiosity that grows bigger and bigger with each question we ask. We drive our own l

earning just with the help of these questions but as soon as we enter the school somehow we forget this natural way of learning and start remembering and learning things in the fix format without questioning them and hence blocking our path as a learners and our student’s path as a teacher.

Now we know ‘What’ the gap is, but how to fix it?

Shifting the focus from finishing content to enduring understanding requires a shift in the way we think.

Cognitive skills, which include long- and short- term memory, auditory processing, visual processing, processing speed and logic & reasoning, play an important role in the processing of the new information. If one of the skill is weak the others are equally impacted along with our whole process of learning.

Thus, whenever a student is pushed to think by asking relevant question the learning starts to happen at different cognitive levels in contrast to one single level and an organic shift occurs from a process that results rote learning vs. active learning.

Taking example of another set of questions (Figure a)


              (a)                                                                                                 (b)


These questions have a common thread that links them beyond the subject boundaries. The above image depicts the example of 5 questions that pushes child to use his/her various cognitive skills and pushes the rigor to help them learn.

In the class or outside class, the type of questions asked impact the information retrieved. A simple question like, ‘What is this? Only pushes someone to recall and answer but a different question asking, ‘Which shapes did I use for this figure?’ pushes the student to analyse the given image first and then understand the text and finally recall the answer.

Two different approaches of asking question to check understanding of same concept ‘Shapes’ clearly brings out how with right set of questions and inquiry we can move our students from lower order thinking to higher order thinking.

This gradual shift from factual recollection to application of the information to create something new completes the cycle of understanding and hence leads to active learning.

So think hard and ask yourself,

Am I asking the right questions??

Am I thinking or working mechanically??

And drive your own and your student’s learning every day in a much better way, to a much better long term results.



By Ritika Shukla – Educational Specialist

Ritika Shukla

Ritika Shukla

Ritika Shukla, an Educational Specialist in Large Scale assessments at Educational Initiatives, is a Teach For India 2014 alum who after working with low income communities of Ahmedabad by teaching 2nd and 3rd graders, mobilized change in the community strongly believes education is the only way to harness true potential of our country and by working with EI she hopes to achieve the same. She is born and brought up in Udaipur, a small city in Rajasthan and completed her engineering in Chemical from SRM University, Chennai. Apart from her work in field of education,she is a classically trained singer, a sports fan and a movie enthusiast.
Ritika Shukla

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