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Maximizing Learning Potential: How Open-Ended Questions Foster Critical Thinking

We'll show you how to take your students' learning to the next level through open ended question.

🕒 7 min read

When it comes to critical thinking for students, we often believe that if they read the material and answer the questions at the end of the chapter, they have done their job. But critical thinking is so much more than that.

Critical thinking involves analyzing information, forming an opinion or argument based on that information, and defending your argument. It's a skill that you use daily in all aspects of your life, from making decisions about what to wear in the morning to determining whether a news article is biased.

The critical thinker students will be able to increase their learning and develop empathy for others' perspectives. It is an important skill for students to master since it helps them manage the increasingly complicated world around them.

This skill can be developed both inside and out of the classroom. By asking effective questions, teachers and parents may help students to think deeply and critically about the world.

In this blog post, we'll show you how to effectively encourage critical thinking for students through open-ended questions!

What is Critical Thinking and Why Is It Important?

According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking, "Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."

In other words, critical thinking is a way of approaching topics or problems with an open mind and a willingness to examine all sides of an issue. It is an essential skill for students to develop, as it will help them to make informed decisions throughout their lives.

There are many benefits of critical thinking for students. For one thing, it helps them to better understand the world around them. When students are able to analyze information and think critically about it, they can see beyond surface-level details and really understand complex concepts.

Additionally, critical thinking skills can help students to identify their own biases and prejudices. By learning to examine their own beliefs and pre-conceptions, they can become more tolerant and understanding of others.

Finally, critical thinking can also help students become better communicators. When they are able to clearly articulate their thoughts and explain the reasoning behind their opinions, they are more likely to be effective in both written and oral communication.

encourage critical thinking

Why Open-Ended Questions?

Multiple-choice quizzes can be the most effective formative assessment method to assess both basic knowledge and more complex ideas.

Multiple-choice quizzes, when they’re well designed, can measure a student's understanding of several topics in a short period of time. Moreover, they can be easily and reliably scored.

However, in today's world, critical thinking is an essential skill for students to acquire. To help ghem develop this skill, it is important to encourage the use of open-ended questions that require them to think deeply and use higher-level thinking skills.

Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a simple yes or no, and instead challenge students to consider multiple perspectives and analyze information. By practicing critical thinking skills, students will be better equipped to navigate the complex challenges of the 21st century and succeed in their future endeavors.

When students are asked to explain their reasoning or justify their answers, they are forced to think more deeply about the material.

Asking open-ended questions is also a good way to gauge student understanding; if students are having difficulty answering a question, it may be an indication that they have not fully grasped the concept.

How To Get The Most Out Of Open-Ended Questions

An open-ended question is not a question with a single valid answer. It is also not a question that can accept any answer. The real purpose of an open-ended question is to address essential concepts, procedures, and abilities to encourage critical thinking for students.

In general, open-ended questions require complex thinking and produce a variety of solutions (Badger 1992).

Open-ended questions should be able to push pupils to demonstrate a thorough comprehension of the content being studied. They should include the following features:

  • They should require students to explain their thinking. The questions should encourage a variety of responses or reactions because not all students think the same.
  • Open-ended questions should allow students to communicate the reasoning process. One advantage of adopting open-ended questions is that students are given the opportunity to express themselves.
  • You should state the open-ended questions explicitly. The questions shouldn’t be difficult to understand. Even though there are many different answers, these sorts of questions should have a clear purpose.

So how to create an effective open-ended quiz to encourage critical thinking for students?

Rolljak Open Ended Quiz feature will definitely achieve the goals of any open-ended activity! Here’s how you can do it in 3 simple steps:

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1. Create the question

You can assess students’ comprehension as well as encourage them to practice their higher order thinking skills with Open-Ended Quiz using Rolljak.

These skills typically require students to problem solve, organize and detect patterns, describe relationships, and generate new ideas from known information, as well as acknowledge the existence of several points of view.

Some examples of questions include:

  • How could you verify __________?
  • What data was used to evaluate __________?
  • Discuss the pros and cons of __________?
  • How can you classify _________ according to ________?
  • What alternative would you suggest for _________?
  • What could you invent _________?

2. Formulate the model answer or sample response

Your sample response is a template for your open-ended response. As stated above, open-ended questions could have more than one answer. Therefore, you should formulate the model answer that consists of the possible expected key answers.

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There is always an opportunity to respond differently, so don't expect them to 100% match your answer. In Rolljak, when you input your model answer, it helps to check your students’ understanding on your behalf!

3. Adjust the time

The more complex the question, you can give your students more time to think and answer. If your students need more time to answer, don’t worry! You can always add time when the game is LIVE.

What to do next

When all students submit their answers, Rolljak A.I. Powered Marking will evaluate the answers semantically and contextually, and you can have students’ scores within seconds! It also shows the top 3 answers to give them recognition.

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From this phase, you can start focusing on what really matters for your students: Provide students with meaningful feedback.

Feedback is an important aspect of learning, but not all of it is beneficial. So, what are the most successful methods of using feedback in educational settings?

We've compiled a list of 3 effective methods for providing feedback to students.

1. Be as detailed as possible

Feedback such as "Great work!" does not suffice in explaining to the students what they did correctly, and similarly, a comment such as "Not quite there yet" does not provide them with any insight into what they did incorrectly and how they might improve the next time.

Instead, you can take the time to offer students with information on what they did well and where they may still need to improve. You can also point out what the students are doing differently might be beneficial.

Is their performance different or better since the previous time you evaluated them? Inform them, even if they still have a long way to go.

2. The earlier the better

Numerous studies show that feedback is most beneficial when offered right away, rather than a few days, weeks, or months later.

It seems hard to offer students with immediate feedback since you have to score your students’ answers and that takes a lot of time. But it is possible with Rolljak! Sooner feedback is definitely preferable to later.

3. Include students in the process

According to Pennebaker, "students must have access to information regarding their performance... At the most basic level, pupils need to know whether or not they have grasped the content. Giving them information on how they study, read, seek for information, or answer questions may be really beneficial."

When students have access to this information, they gain an awareness of their learning, are able to spot faults better, and eventually build solutions for dealing with their own weak points.

Why Rolljak A.I. Powered Marking is powerful

Thorough, timely, and regular feedback is one of the most essential things educators can do to ensure that their teaching efforts take root in their students. This is also a great way to encourage critical thinking for students.

Creating feedback that is goal-referenced, concrete, practical, and accessible, and then delivering it in a timely, consistent manner, will optimize its influence on learning outcomes.

To do this, you must evaluate each students’ comprehension as well as their degree of effort. Educators need to know what their students comprehend from one day to the next. If you understand their learning gaps, you can tailor your lectures to address them.

Yet, grading is often a challenge.

It is critical to fairly evaluate and grade students’ work to represent its quality.

Grading with precision and fairness can take a long time, which teachers frequently lack. Students who are dissatisfied with their grades might occasionally protest them. Furthermore, some teachers discover that their students' or even their own fixation on giving numbers to student work interferes with facilitating genuine learning.

Rolljak A.I. Marking will definitely help you!


Rolljak Open Ended Quiz can help teachers in making marking more efficient and meaningful, and providing more time to focus on high-level feedback. With your already busy schedules, this feature offers you a quick, fuss-free option that frees you up and excites your students for class at the same time!

Jump in, experiment with our new feature, and have fun!