Using Divergent Questions To Promote Higher Level Thinking

What is a divergent question? A divergent question is a question with no specific answer. The purpose of a divergent question is to exercise one’s ability to think broadly, and creatively. Divergent questions are more analytical, testing the students’ ability to synthesize information, offer educated opinions or create hypotheses based on their knowledge. These types of questions are always open-ended, allowing the students to express themselves as they demonstrate their ability to reason in the subject.

These types of questioning fit very nicely with the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain, as shown below:

Analysis Breaking something down into its parts. Divergent: Critical thinking; identifying reasons and motives; making inferences based on specific data; analyzing conclusions to see if supported by evidence.
Synthesis Creating something new by combining different ideas. Divergent: Original thinking; original plan, proposal, design or story.
Evaluation Judging the value of materials
or methods as they might be applied in a particular situation.
Divergent: Judging the merits of ideas, offering opinions, applying standards

2 thoughts on “Using Divergent Questions To Promote Higher Level Thinking

  1. Great post Lori. It’s so important with trainees who will be faced with serious decisions to learn to think through their actions and potential consequences.

    Great Blog and I really like your theme!

    • Hi Petar,
      Thank you for your comments and encouragement. I keep working on asking better questions in my teaching. I think it is one of the most powerful tools instructors have. I’m glad you like the blog, I was considering changing the theme, but I think I’ll leave it for now, based on your positive feedback!

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