Date of Award

Fall 10-28-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Christopher Tienken, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Danny Robertozzi, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Christie Vanderhook, Ed.D.


teacher questioning, critical thinking, higher-order thinking, cognitive complexity


Asking questions is essential for checking student understanding and keeping them engaged with the task at hand. It is crucial to the way students receive and process information and it encourages independent and critical thinking. Statistics show that the average teacher asks between 300 and 400 questions per day. To have the desired effect, these questions need to be effective, well-considered, and challenging.

Effective, cognitively complex questioning involves using questions in the classroom to open conversations, inspire deeper intellectual thought, and promote student-to-student interaction. Effective questions focus on eliciting the process, i.e. the ‘how’ and ‘why’ in a student’s response, as opposed to answers which just detail ‘what.’ Using effective questions in the classroom creates opportunities for students to analyze their own thinking, that of their peers, and their work.

Research suggests that a majority of questions are at the lower end of cognitive complexity and do not promote higher-order or critical thinking. The New Jersey State Learning Standards (NJSLS) have embedded these types of skills into the state teaching standards. Textbook resources are still one of the most influential forces on pedagogy and the overall type of thinking that is promoted in the classroom. There is growing concern with the claims these companies make regarding alignment to standards, whether their claims are audited for validity, and specifically, whether or not the content is aligned with the higher-order thinking required of students. Most textbook series do not undergo an independent analysis of their claims. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to determine how the language of written questions in a 3rd grade reading textbook series compares with the language of higher-order thinking found in research literature represented by the Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrix.