As mentors you can ask your group participants questions to get them talking and participating. You can also ask them questions to understand their opinions and to see what they know. There are different ways to ask questions. Some are easier to answer than others. Some questions are called ‘open-ended’ questions and others are ‘closed-ended’.  

What is a closed-ended question?
A closed question can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Closed questions do not encourage people to talk a lot. This is useful when you want to quickly learn what people think about something. Closed questions help you understand what people know.  

What is an open-ended question?
Open-ended questions encourage people to talk and give an opinion about something. They are useful to learn about people’s opinions and thoughts. Open-ended questions mean that people engage more in conversation than when they are asked a closed question.


Closed question
Can a baby become infected with HIV through breastfeeding?
Here your participants can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Open question
Do you know of any ways a baby can become infected with HIV?
This question gives people a lot of different ways to answer and it lets you see how much they know. They might reply:
A baby can get HIV through pregnancy, birth or during breastfeeding or from their HIV positive mother when she is pregnant.
Can you see the difference between the two? Which one encourages people to talk?