Date of Award

Winter 2-27-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Christopher Tienken, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Wendiann R. Sethi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gerald Fitzhugh, II, Ed.D.


critical thinking, teacher questioning, higher order thinking, 21st century skills, cognitive complexity, metacognition


The importance of questioning is a crucial skill for the 21st century learner. The importance of having questioning designed to develop higher order thinking is critical. Much of today’s educational research notes the importance of the competitive skills and knowledge students must obtain in order to be successful academically in college entry courses, in vocational training programs, and ultimately, when navigating the real world. Questioning within the classroom setting can help students develop critical thinking ideas, scaffold classroom discussions, and guide students to an advanced level of cognition. Through the skillful art of questioning, teachers can establish students’ prior knowledge while simultaneously identifying the gaps in knowledge. In an effort to foster critical thinking, an environment must be created that encourages students to take risks and support critical thinking while both valuing and rewarding it as well. School environments must create mini-critical societies in their classrooms based on open mindedness, empathy, truth, autonomy, rationality, and self-criticism. When classroom environments are created that support critical thinking, students learn to believe in the power of their own ability to identify and solve problems independently. Students also begin to learn the efficacy of their own thinking and therefore, thinking for themselves becomes something they do not fear but rather embrace. In an attempt to expose students to higher order thinking, the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) have embedded these types of skills into the state teaching standards. Research suggests that a majority of the questions being asked are lower cognitive questions that would generally be placed on the lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy known as Knowledge or Remember. These types of questions are mostly fact based, closed, direct, recall related and questions that measure knowledge which are not promoting higher order or critical thinking. “The New Jersey Student Learning Standards were developed with the intent to encourage problem solving, critical thinking, reasoning, and real-world application in order to prepare students for the workplace and are expected to be embedded consistently in classroom practice and learning” (NJDOE, 2019). This research design utilized a mixed method, including qualitative content analysis using the Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrix to code the type of questions being asked on tests and quizzes in a 10th grade social studies textbook.