Questions to encourage thinking

Delving deeper: Supplementary questions - New Zealand Parliament


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What is so important about questions and questioning?  Questions allow people to make sense of their worlds and to take action smartly.  They are the most powerful tools we have for making decisions and solving problems-for inventing, changing and improving our lives as well as the lives of others. ( learning to question to wonder to learn … Jamie McKenzie )


Questions are at the heart of the learning process. A good question gets dialogue going and uncovers new thoughts. 




What is the intent of the article?
What areas do we need to explore?
  • A good way to start is by using the 5 W’s (Who, When,
    Where, What, Why) plus How in a question format






A question  is an expression of inquiry that invites or calls for a reply or an interrogative


sentence, phrase, or gesture.



Isidore I. Rabi .. (Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944 ), says his mother would ask him each day when he returned from school “did you ask good questions today”  that made me become a scientist.


What makes a question good?

  • A good question makes you think.
  • A good question is one that does not have an immediate answer, because it requires some thinking, feeling and application to previous knowledge.
  • A good question opens doors.  It demands more than a yes or no answer.
  • A good question penetrates the structure and meaning of the knowledge base to seek understanding.  


The Structure of Questions

Open-ended questions are best for most learning situations, unless you have a particular reason for leading someone to a specific conclusion or actually need a fact supplied to you.

Try to avoid yes/no questions because they're usually a dead end. In contrast, open-ended questions:

·         invite opinions, thoughts and feelings;

·         encourage participation;

·         establish rapport;

·         stimulate discussion; and

·         maintain balance between facilitator and participant.


 Examples of questions that make you think more deeply


  Discuss the following:

. • Asking Questions that open up more options can lead to many unexpected solutions. • Asking questions that help adversaries shift from their stuck positions on an issue can lead to acts of healing and reconciliation.

• Asking questions that are unask able in our culture at the moment can lead to the transformation of our culture and its institutions.

• Asking Questions and listening for the strategies and ideas embedded in people’s own answers can be the greatest service a social change worker can give to a particular issue.

Essential Question

1. Is open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer.

2. Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate. 

3. Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.

4. Points toward important, transferable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines. 5. Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.

6. Requires support and justification, not just an answer.

7. Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.