The Question Exploration Routine

"Question Exploration Routine manual cover photo"

The Question Exploration Routine helps students explore important questions and use the resulting knowledge in a variety of ways, providing a potential foundation for independent problem solving and higher-order thinking. The routine guides students in examining the critical question, key terms and definitions, supporting questions and answers, and a main idea that synthesizes the information into a concise answer to the critical question. The routine also helps students explore applications of the main idea to their lives.

Results of field tests show that teacher use of the Question Exploration Routine is associated with significantly higher test scores than when teachers do not use the routine. In one study, students who were taught a lesson using the Question Exploration Routine earned an average test score of 70 percent while students who were taught the lesson with traditional methods scored an average of 48 percent. Students with learning disabilities in the study earned a mean test score of 64 percent when the teacher used the routine compared to 34 percent for students with learning disabilities who learned the same information through traditional methods.

Please note that professional development, coaching, and infrastructure support are essential components to effective implementation of SIM instructional tools and interventions. It is highly recommended that you work with a SIM professional developer. Please email to learn more.

The Question Exploration Routine Research (.pdf)

Author(s): Janis A Bulgren, B. Keith Lenz, Donald D. Deshler, and Jean B. Schumaker

Publication Info: Edge Enterprises, 2001

This product is published by Edge Enterprises, Inc.  Professional development is recommended, see the SIM Event page for sessions.

Research Articles

  • Bulgren, J.A., Marquis, J.G., Lenz, B.K., Schumaker, J.B., & Deshler, D.D. (2009). Effectiveness of question exploration to enhance students' written expression of content knowledge and comprehension. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 25, 271-289. Using an experimental design, this study found positive results in regard to the effectiveness of the Question Exploration Routine and Question Exploration Guide for enhancing student performance in terms of comprehension of content and quality of written responses.
  • Bulgren, J.A., Marquis, J.G., Lenz, B.K., Deshler, D.D., & Schumaker, J.B. (2011). The effectiveness of a question-exploration routine for enhancing the content learning of secondary students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(3), 578-593. In this study, students--including subgroups of students--who were taught using the Question Exploration Routine and Question Exploration Guide earned higher test scores than those taught using a lecture-discussion method.
  • Schumaker, J.B., Fisher, J.B., Walsh, L.D, Lancaster, P.E. (2020) Effects of Multimedia versus Live Professional Development on Teachers' and Students' Performance Related to the Question Exploration Routine. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 00(0), 1-21. In each of two studies, teachers were assigned to Virtual Workshops using a computerized professional development program and an Actual Workshop group that participated in face-to-face professional development, including discussion, feedback, and collaboration.  Both groups' post-test scores with regard to implementation and planning of the  routine were significantly greater than their pretest scores.  The post-test knowledge scores of the whole groups of students and the subgroups of students with LD being taught by both groups of teachers were significantly higher than their pretest scores.

An accessible version of the documents on this site will be made available upon request. Please contact the KU CRL Professional Development Research Institute, at to request the document be made available in an accessible format.