Strategy Guide

Question the Author (QtA)

3 - 12
Strategy Guide Series
Reading in the Content Areas

About this Strategy Guide

In this guide, you'll be introduced to a strategy that requires students to challenge their understanding and solidify their knowledge while reading a text.

Research Basis

At times, engaging all students with a text that they are reading can seem quite difficult.  Question the Author (QtA) is a comprehension strategy that asks students to pose queries while reading a given text, helping to solidify their knowledge and challenge their understanding, rather than after reading.  QtA, which is primarily used with nonfiction texts (but can be used with fiction, as well), engages students with the text to create deeper meaning by allowing students to critique the authors’ writing.

This strategy aims to engage all students through discussions and interactions within the classroom.  According to Beck, McKeown, et al, the power of QtA is that the students do all of the interpretive work: “they construct the meaning, wrestle with the ideas, and consider the ways information connects to construct meaning” (33).


VanDeWeghe, Rick. "Research Matters: Authentic Literacy and Student Achievement." English Journal 97.6. (July 2008): 105-108.

Beck, I.L., & McKeown, M.G., Hamilton, R.L., & Kugan, L. (1997).  Questioning the Author: An Approach for Enhancing Student Engagement with Text.  Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Strategy in Practice

  • Prior to introducing the strategy to students, the teacher should select a passage in the text that students will find interesting and that will create a good discussion.
  • After selecting an appropriate passage, decide on stopping points where you think students need to stop, think, and gain a deeper understanding of the text.
  • Create questions/queries that can be asked of the students at each stopping point to encourage Higher Order Thinking.  Examples of appropriate queries are below.
    • Initiating Queries (get a discussion started):
      • Does this make sense to you?
      • What do you think the author is attempting to say here?
    • Follow-up Queries (help students connect emerging meanings with their perceptions of author intention and with other ideas in the text):
      • Why do you think the author chose to use this phrase or wording in this specific spot?
      • Did the author explain this clearly?
      • Did the author tell us why?
      • Why do you think the author tells us this now?
    • Narrative Queries (help students think about character and craft):
      • How do things look for this character now?
      • How has the author let you know that something has changed?
      • How has the author settled this for us?
  • Once the teacher preparation is complete, display the chosen passage to students, along with one or two of the questions/queries that were created (you may choose to project this for the class to see, point students to a passage in the text, or have the passage posted on the board/chart paper).
  • Model for the students how one should read the passage and think through the queries (you may wish to use the "Think Aloud" strategy).  Share some immediate thoughts or ideas about the passage and queries with students.
  • Keep in mind that the role of the teacher during this strategy is to facilitate the discussion and keep it moving among the students—not to lead it by taking charge and "lecturing".  If students ask questions that go unanswered, restate them and encourage students to continue to investigate and work to determine the answer.

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