Question-posing and question-responding: the heart of 'Possibility Thinking' in the early years

Chappell, Kerry; Craft, Anna; Burnard, Pamela and Cremin, Teresa (2008). Question-posing and question-responding: the heart of 'Possibility Thinking' in the early years. Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, 28(3) pp. 267–286.



Drawing on research that sought to explore the characteristics of 'Possibility Thinking' as central to creativity in young children's learning, this paper considers question-posing and question-responding as the driving features of 'Possibility Thinking' (PT). This qualitative study employed micro-event analysis of peer and pupil-teacher interaction. Events were sampled from two early years settings in England, one a Reception classroom (4- to 5-year olds) and the other a Year 2 classroom (6- to 7-year olds). This article arises out of the second stage of an ongoing research programme (2004-2007) involving the children and practitioners in these settings. This phase considers the dimensions of question-posing and the categories of question-responding and their interrelationship within PT. Three dimensions of questioning were identified as characteristic of PT. These included: (i) question framing, reflecting the purpose inherent within questions for adults and children (including leading, service and follow-through questions); (ii) question degree: manifestation of the degree of possibility inherent in children's questions (including possibility narrow, possibility moderate, possibility broad); (iii) question modality, manifestation of the modality inherent in children's questions (including verbal and non-verbal forms). The fine-grained data analysis offers insight into how children engage in PT to meet specific needs in responding to creative tasks and activities and reveals the crucial role that question-posing and question-responding play in creative learning. It also provides more detail about the nature of young children's thinking, made visible through question-posing and responding in engaging playful contexts.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions