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After Reading Activity:  Efferent Questioning

Page history last edited by Mary Murray Stowe 12 years, 8 months ago


After Reading Activity: Efferent Questioning


Efferent Discussion: Questioning the Author


The What Works Clearinghouse has included a recommendation for "extended discussion around text" in its adolescent literacy practice guide of 2008, with moderate evidence of effectiveness. Kamil (2011) elaborated on this recommendation, noting a discussion protocol and three types of discussion.


Discussion Protocol: (Murphy, Wilkinson, Soter, Hennessey, & Alexander, 2009)

  • Have students explain positions and reasoning,
  • Model reasoning by thinking out loud,
  • Propose counter arguments or positions,
  • Acknowledge good reasoning, and
  • Summarize discussion as it closes.


Three types of discussions were presented as well, including Critical/Analytic, Efferent, and Expressive. (Follow the link below with Kamil's [2011] citation for further information.) Efferent discussion increased student talk and comprehension more than other types presented (Kamil). Efferent questions are those that refer to factual data rather than personal reactions to information. Example efferent questions: “What was the main idea?” or “What did the author mean by a particular statement or action within a passage?” Efferent discussions, in which Questioning the Author is used, are the only discussions in which the approach is designed specifically to help students grapple with the meaning of informational text (Wilkinson, 2010).


Suggested Efferent Questions:

"What did John do to Alex in this story?"

"What is the author saying here?"

"Does this information agree with other information?"


Fishbowl Discussions:














Beck, I. L., & McKeown, M. G. (2006). Improving comprehension with questioning the author:

A fresh and expanded view of a powerful approach. New York, NY: Scholastic.



Kamil, M. (2011, May). Adolescent literacy: 16 recommendations from research. Presentation

in New Orleans, Louisiana: Center on Development and Learning, Plain Talk About

Reading. http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/677


Murphy, P. K., Wilkinson, I.A.G., Soter, A. O., Hennessey, M. N., & Alexander, J. F.

(2009). Examining the effects of classroom discussion on students' comprehension of

text: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 740-764.


Wilkinson, I. (2010). Discussion methods. Retrieved from


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