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Research Process: Essential Questions

What Makes an Effective Inquiry Question?

What makes a good Inquiry Question?

It is Critical, not Simple

Critical question . . .

  • leads to more questions
  • provokes discussion
  • comes from a critical or careful reading of the text or understanding of a topic
  • addresses wider issues

A Simple question . . .

  • can be answered with a "yes" or "no"
  • can contain the answers within the question
  • can be answered by a fact, or a series of facts
  • can easily be found by "Googling"

Writing a Research Question

Essential Questions

What is a good Essential Question?

  • Has no definite or singular answer
  • Requires justification or support
  • Is beyond topic or skills
  • Triggers the hydra effect (investigate one question, and more appear)
  • Is timeless and naturally recurs
  • Can be elemental or foundational if within a discipline
  • Stimulates critical and continual rethinking
  • Engages a deeply personal connection

Sentence Stems and Questions for Critical Queries

Re-evaluate Your Question

Re-evaluate your Question IF:

  • You can answer it too easily . . .
    • by looking it up
    • by summarizing a source
    • if the answer seems self-evident because the evidence overwhelmingly favors one answer
  • You cannot find enough good evidence and authoritative sources to support an answer because . . .
    • no relevant facts exist
    • not enough research exists to be considered
    • the question is based on preference
  • You have too much info . . .
    • your topic is too broad