SQR: Summarize, Question, Respond

A discussion strategy for developing critical thinking

From SQR: Summary, Question, Respond, A discussion strategy for developing critical thinking (Unpublished curriculum development). J.N. Maier. (1990).

This strategy is designed to help students take ownership of their learning, to give students a way to generate their own ideas, and thus, to possess them and make them their own. This approach to learning also involves elaboration and discussion between teacher and students. Often, it is the quality of those discussions that determine the extent and quality of the students' learning. The better the discussion, with respect to its intellectual demand and objective, the more elaborate the thinking of students and the more permanent the learning. Because discussion has such a central place in engaging learning, this strategy was developed to focus on the kind of discussion that stimulates students to arrive at informed judgments on their own. The learner is guided through a process of individual insights that are challenged through small-group and whole-class discussions.

Strategy: Summarize, Question, Respond (SQR)


The learner will

1. comprehend text.

2. organize information by topic (expository text).

3. evaluate information and determine which information is important (i.e., separate the necessary from the unnecessary and distinguish main ideas from supporting details).

4. condense ideas.

5. transform ideas into written discourse.


The learner will

1. reflect on reading material and formulate questions at application, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation levels.

2. write one or two questions (as the students learn the strategy they will write more than two questions).

3. select "Best Question" of the small group to share and discuss during whole-group discussion. ("Best Question" is usually the question(s) that provoked an engaging discussion in the small group.)


The learner will write a conclusion that summarizes the main points of either the small-group or whole-class discussion.

Steps in the SQR strategy:

1. Read the material.

2. Write a summary of the material in SQR journal.

3. Write questions on the material in SQR journal.

4. Discuss summaries and questions in small group.

5. Select "Best Question" to share with whole class.

6. Discuss "Best Questions" with whole class (teacher employs questioning techniques to facilitate an engaging and challenging whole-class discussion).

7. Write a response to the small-group or whole-class discussion in SQR journal.

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Posted November 1997
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