Explore Teaching Examples | Provide Feedback

Composing Questions

If you don't find JiTT questions that serve your purposes in existing collections, you can certainly write your own. The tool we find most useful in this process is Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning. This taxonomy classifies learning goals according to their complexity. The higher-order thinking required for goals in the more complex levels presupposes mastery of goals at the simpler levels. Keep in mind that the JiTT questions should take students only 15-30 minutes to answer; a total of 3-5 questions is typical, with a mix of cognitive levels. If all of the questions require higher-level thinking, consider using only 2 or 3 questions.

What Will Prepare Your Students for Class?

Before you write your questions, ask yourself: "What do I want my students to know, understand, apply, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate prior to class?" You may very well want to work backwards from the in-class activity you plan to use. In other words, what do your students need to have thought about or done in order to be fully prepared for that activity?

Note: All of the sample questions listed below are taken from our collection of Example JiTT WarmUp Exercises.

Knowledge and Comprehension

The most fundamental learning goals fall into the categories of knowledge and understanding. If all your students need when they walk into your classroom is content knowledge and the ability to explain important terms and concepts, your JiTT questions can target these cognitive levels. Sample questions:

  • What are some of the biological effects of dam removal (good and bad)?
  • What are the three leading ideas for the cause of the Permian mass extinction? What is the evidence for and against each?
  • Describe Darwin's garden experiment and the significance of it.
  • According to NASA, why is Earth's climate warming?

Application and Analysis

When students have mastered knowledge and understanding, you can ask them to apply their knowledge or to analyze relevant information. If your in-class exercise requires application or analysis, you may want to give your students time to practice those skills prior to class. Sample questions:
  • Let's say I told you that I thought marine mammals evolved independently of land mammals (meaning, both originated on their own in separate environments with no linkages). What evidence would you use to argue that my viewpoint is incorrect?
  • Can human population growth impact biodiversity? Explain your viewpoint.
  • List the animals that have been uncovered in the La Brea Tar Pits that you didn't know were native to North America. Why do you think these animals are now extinct?

Synthesis and Evaluation

The highest cognitive level requires students to synthesize information from multiple sources or to evaluate a situation. If you will be asking your students to think at this level during class, it's best to prepare them by asking them to complete similar tasks prior to class. Sample questions:
  • What do you think it means for a fossil resource to be "abused"?
  • Describe at least two different solutions that have been proposed to combat the problem of the rising water table damaging Egypt's archaeological monuments. Which do you think is the better solution, and why?
  • There were many "costs" involved with constructing the Aswan High Dam. Identify some of these costs. Have the short-term and long-term impacts of the dam construction been worth it? Explain.
  • After reading both articles... SO WHAT if we find life on the Moon and Mars? What's the big deal? What will that mean to scientists and society if we find life currently alive on both the Moon and Mars?

For Further Information

Bloom, B. & Krathwohl, D. (1956): Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. Full citation and bibliographic information.

Huitt, W. (2004). Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University.