Hinge-point questions (HPQs) shared by learners on the Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching course

Rate this resource

Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching

These hinge-point questions (HPQs - or more accurately, attempts at writing HPQs) were collected during Weeks 3 and 4 of past runs of the free online Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching course led by Dylan William, Chris Harrison and Andrea Mapplebeck.

HPQs are a particular case of diagnostic questions - HPQs are asked mid-lesson and the collective response determines what the teacher does next. 

By following the links below you can access the body of material that has been collated.

The key thing about HPQs is that, in contrast to say lessons plans and schemes of work, they are readily transferred. Check out this extract from a recent Q&A session with Chris and Dylan (chaired by Andrea):

Andrea: .... any particular challenges that you've encountered when you've been working with teachers who are designing hinge-point questions ... [are these] challenges ... similar for educators at different levels or phases of the education.

Chris: I think the main challenge for teachers is about the four letter word ‘time.’ They don't have the time nor sometimes get the time to working on the questions and thinking it through and maybe trialing them  ...

One thing that I learned early on and this was in a project that Dylan and I did nearly 20 years ago now, the KMOFAP Project was that teachers don't naturally share questions. I was amazed listening to some of the Science and Maths teachers that the questions they use... These are just ordinary questions would really causing kids to talk rather than hinge-point questions but I hadn’t realised certain questions were just so good at revealing children's thinking. I learned a lot from those teachers.

I'd encourage teachers to share with colleagues and to talk, not just about the question itself but how it works in their classrooms because it's actually the interactions that ensue from any question that's going to be useful.

Dylan: It was one of the teachers in the KMOFAP Project that Chris mentioned. This teacher said to me you can’t think of good questions on your own. You will be victim to your own way of thinking about this stuff. I think I just want to reinforce the fact, the point that Chris made. Hinge questions, when they're delivered well collaboratively are durable and portable. What are good questions now will be good questions in 20 years time because students will have say misconceptions with scientific and mathematical content they do right now.

The other thing we've discovered is, good questions developed in Australia works just as well in England. The extraordinary thing is the time spent developing these questions and then sharing with colleagues is rarely wasted.

Andrea:  It reminds me of something I've read Dylan that you wrote that it’s much easier for teachers to share questions than it is to share lesson plans and it's thinking about when we use those assessments as you said Chris during that learning and how are we going to response to the evidence we elicit.

I think the key things that have come out from our experts are thinking about when we use them to actually using multiple correct answers is beneficial for all students in the class and for us as educators to find out. I think the really strong message is, they need to be trialed with collaboration and that actually it's through using them that you're going to keep evolving them. That you might not get there first time, you might not get there second time. As Dylan says, "Asking for reasons behind the answers is going to help you keep evolving them as well as those discussion with all the professionals." 

So it would be really, really cool if teachers could crowd-source a freely-available repository of proven HPQs!

But writing good HPQs is hard. As Dylan says at the conclusion of the course:

‘None of this is easy to do and all of it takes practice. But it is worth persisting.’

The proto-HPQs linked below derive from two sources:

The information is made available on the following basis:

By taking part in this peer review exercise you are temporarily waiving the FutureLearn terms and conditions, specifically paragraph 7.11, so that the National STEM Learning Centre may use or modify any content you create to assist with the creation of a freely available HPQ repository which will be subject to a Creative Commons Licence (Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike; BY-NC-SA).

This means that no one can use your work as part of a charged service without your permission, and you will be credited as its creator wherever it appears.

Of course, no guarantees can be given as to the quality of the HPQs, but such a body of materials might form the basis of a more filtered subset of questions that have been quality assured.

If such a subset of questions is created in the future then you will find a link to it from this resource.

To keep up to date with any such developments or to discuss HPQs please join the Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching group.


Show health and safety information

Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

Published by


Share this resource