Teachers have been described as a "professional question makers" (Aschner, 1961), and their questions can be used to shape their students' understanding and success. Effective questions engage students in the learning process and can be used to close the gap between a teachers' classroom presentation and the students' comprehension of the lesson content (Borich, 2006). Teachers use questions to probe the students' level of understanding, to elicit students to take the next step in a thought process, and to push students to think further about information (Slavin, 2011).
Classroom questions help to focus attention and engage students to actively construct their own responses. It is important for teachers to probe student understanding with questions to determine what content the students understand and where any confusion or gaps in knowledge exist. Using this information, teachers can set an appropriate pace for the class and determine which areas require additional instruction, and they can then build upon the students' previous understanding to bridge observed knowledge gaps and ensure the clarity of the lesson. Additionally, the use of indirect questions can help teachers determine if students are using high-level cognitive processes, such as analysis, or low-level processes, such as recall. This can be an effective method to recognize which students are engaging their thoughts in the material.