Open- ended vs. Closed Questions

I  feel that asking questions it is an extremely important part of being an effective Instructor/Facilitator. Particularly, the right questions. In the human and social development field, the right questions are almost always “open ended”, “thoughtful”, “non-judgemental” and/or “non-leading”.

It is important for the Facilitator to be a good listener and to encourage learners to consider all angles of a topic as well as share what their prior knowledge and understanding of the material being presented. It is most helpful when the learner is able to make connections with what they have already experienced in the field to tie it to new concepts, theories or ideas that the Instructor is introducing to them.

In addition to this, I also agree with the following statement located in the following online resource “11 Tips to Engage and Inspire Adult Learners”…

“1. Make it relevant…” – I think that when adult learners have decided to return to school there are many questions that they ask themselves such as; ” is this really going to help me?” and ” Am I wasting my time?” therefore, I think that it is extremely important that we as Instructors are asking the most relevant questions as we can in order for learners to feel that they are making the right choice to apply themselves. There are often times when one question leads into two or more follow up questions and that is OK. As long as the learner is still feeling like the information is or will be useful to them.

I think that for most adult learners time is of the essence when returning to school and pursuing a higher education however, it is also crucial that their previous knowledge and understanding of a topic is brought forward so that new information can be linked to their previous understanding in order for the material to stick. This is also another good reason aim to use open-ended, thought provoking and relevant questions so that learners are immediately drawn in and remain engaged in the conversation and are more likely to remember the conversation.


Closed ended question: ” What qualities of a human service worker do you possess?”


Open ended question: ” What qualities do you possess that would be most helpful in the human services field and why?”



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