Asking Effective Questions

This paper from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) outlines the rationale and process for creating effective questions. Whilst it is not focused exclusively on evaluation questions, the ideas presented can easily be used to formulate effective questions for evaluative purposes. 

"Questions are a prerequisite to learning. They are a window into creativity and insight. They motivate fresh thinking. They challenge outdated assumptions. They lead us into the future. A powerful question

  • generates curiosity in participants;
  • stimulates reflective thinking and conversation;
  • surfaces and challenges assumptions;
  • is thought-provoking;
  • channels attention, focuses inquiry, and promises insight;
  • invites creativity and new possibilities;
  • generates energy, a vector to explore, and forward movement;
  • is broad, enduring, and stays with participants;
  • touches a deep meaning; and
  • evokes more questions." (Serrat, 2009)


  • Background
  • Typologies of questions
  • Figure 1: Bloom's (revised) Cognitive Domain
  • Table 1: Aligning verbs to Bloom's Taxonomy
  • The art and science of powerful questions
  • Figure 2: A basic typology of questions
  • Figure 3: The architecture of a question
  • Fostering strategic inquiry
  • Box: Is your organization an inquiring system?
  • Table 2: Questions for all seasons
  • Further reading


Serrat, O. Asian Development Bank, (2009). Asking effective questions (July 2009 | 52). Retrieved from website: