Building a Culture of Inquiry

If you want students to ask questions, the culture in your classroom has to support them in that.  Building a culture of inquiry means fostering an atmosphere where asking and answering questions is safe. Here are some articles to get you started thinking about building a culture of inquiry:


Here’s some tips on getting students to participate in answering questions:

  1. Wait 15 seconds before you call on anyone – gives more people a chance to think of an answer
  2. If no one has volunteered after 30 seconds, try rephrasing the question or asking students what they need to know to answer the question
  3. Try to call on different people throughout a class. You could say, I want to hear from someone who has not yet participated
  4. Give verbal and nonverbal feedback to students who have participated-praise for good answers, for non-helpful answers you might thank the person for volunteering and ask for more responses.


University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. (2014, January 1). Student Participation/Active Learning- Teaching Tips.


When building a culture of inquiry, place importance on the question rather than the answer, the thought being that you want to build questioning skills, not just provide answers.


McTighe, Jay and Wiggins, Grant. (2013). Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding. Alexandria, VA:  ASCD



This entry was posted in Positive Learning Environments, Questioning Techniques. Bookmark the permalink.

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