Questioning the Author (QtA)



Students need to be taught that they can, and should, ask questions of authors as they read.  The goal of QtA is to teach students to use a questioning process to construct meaning of text, to go beyond the words on the page, and to relate outside experiences to the texts being read (Beck, McKeown, Hamilton, & Kucan, 1997).  QtA involves the teacher and the class in a collaborative process of building understanding during reading (Beck & McKeown, 2001).  The teacher participates in QtA as a facilitator, guide, initiator, and responder.  The teacher strives to elicit readers’ thinking while keeping them focused in their discussion (Beck & McKeown, 2002).

Teachers should make a poster of the types of questions students are expected to ask.  These should be modeled by the teacher, and students should be encouraged to ask their own.


Teaching Process

1.   The QtA process begins by providing students the types of questions they are expected to ask about the texts they read.  These can be given to students in a handout, projected on the board, or made into a poster and attached to the classroom wall.  Students should have access to these questions whenever they’re needed.

2.   Model the QtA process with students, using a text from class.  Demonstrate for students how the QtA questions can be asked in ways that apply directly to the content of the text.

3.   Put students in pairs to practice questioning the author together while you monitor, providing additional modeling and clarification.  While QtA is an interactive strategy, the goal is to make the questioning process automatic for students so they use it on their own.


Typical Goals and Queries for QtA


Goal                                                Query


Initiate discussion                           What is the author trying to say?

                                                        What is the author’s message?

                                                What is the author talking about?


Focus on author’s message                     That’s what the author says, but what does

                                                   it mean?

                                                Why did the author choose this word?


Link information                            How does that connect with what the author

                                                   already told us?

                                                What information has the author added here

                                                   that connects of fits in with_________?


Identify difficulties with the way the             Does that make sense?

author has presented information or              Did the author state or explain that clearly?

ideas                                                   why or why not?

                                                What do we need to figure out or find out?


Encourage students to refer to the text  Did the author tell us that?

Because they have misinterpreted, or to        Did the author give us the answer to that?       

Help them recognize that they have

Made an inference         




Beck, I.L., & McKeown, M.G. (2001). Inviting students into the pursuit of meaning.

        Educational Psychology Review, 13, 225-241.

Beck, I.L., & McKeown, M.G. (2002). Questioning the author: Making sense of social

        studies. Educational Leadership, 60, 44-47.

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., Hamilton, R.L., & Kucan, L. (1997). Questioning the

        author: An approach for enhancing student engagement with text. Newark, DE:

        International Reading Association.



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