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Questions to Ask for Reading Comprehension

This article will focus on Bloom's Taxonomy of Questions...in other words, kinds of questions to ask in order to assure reading comprehension and foster higher-level thinking.

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom identified six levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. Students should be asked questions from EACH level. Think of a six-level pyramid with knowledge at the lowest level and evaluation at the highest level.

1. Knowledge - This is the recall of specific information whether it be dates, events, places, ideas, or any subject matter. Use words such as these to ask for this kind of information: list, define, tell, describe, who, what, and where.

Example Questions - Who was Goldilocks? Define the Olympic Motto. Make a timeline of events.

2. Comprehension - This is an understanding of what was read and includes interpreting facts, comparing and contrasting, and predicting consequences. Use words such as these to ask for this kind of information: summarize, estimate, discuss, predict, interpret, and associate.

Example Questions - What is the story about?(Main Idea) How does drug use affect competition? Write a summary report of an event.

3. Application - This is the use of information, methods, concepts, and theories in new situations. Use words such as these to ask for this kind of information: apply, demonstrate, illustrate, solve, modify, and change.

Example Questions - How were the bears in Goldilocks like real people? Modify an Olympic sport for the Paralympics. Dress a doll in a national costume.

4. Analysis - This is the comparison of the content to your own personal experiences and includes seeing patterns, identifying components, and recognizing hidden meanings. Use words such as these to ask for this kind of information: analyze, separate, order, classify, divide, and explain.

Example Questions - How did each bear react to what Goldilocks did? Contrast Olympic athletes of today with those of the past. Make a family tree showing relationships.

5. Synthesis - This is the creative level - using old ideas to create new ones - and consists of generalizing from given facts, relating knowledge from several areas, and drawing conclusions. Use words such as these to ask for this kind of information: combine, integrate, substitute, create, invent, and compose.

Example Questions - Make a diorama of the bears' house and the forest. When does sport become a business? Compose a rhythm or write a parody.

6. Evaluation - This is the judgement of characters, actions, and outcomes for personal reflection and understanding and includes recognizing subjectivity, verifying the value of evidence, and making choices based upon logic. Use words such as these to ask for this kind of information: grade, convince, support, recommend, measure, and conclude.

Example Questions - Do you think Goldilocks will listen to her mother's warnings from now on? Why? Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Olympics and recommend changes. Form a panel to discuss views on an important issue.

To review, then, ask questions incorporating all levels of thinking to insure understanding and encourage a high level of thinking.

I hope these ideas are useful and inspire your own creative thinking.

And remember...Reading is FUNdamental!


1. Learning Skills Program - Bloom's Taxonomy; http://www.coun.uvic.ca/learn/program/hndouts/bloom.html

2. Comprehension: Bloom's Taxonomy; http://www.ops.org/reading/blooms_taxonomy.html

Submitted by:

Freda J. Glatt, MS

Freda J. Glatt, MS, retired from teaching after a 34-year career in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Her focus, now, is to reach out and help others reinforce reading comprehension and develop a love for reading. Visit her site at http://www.sandralreading.com. Reading is FUNdamental! Copyright © 2003-2006 Sandral Sensations, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida All Rights Reserved�


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