More questions than answers

We talk a lot in our research, discussion and writing classes about the importance of making good Research Questions and Discussion Questions, and I try to encourage students to make DQ in 3 different ways:

  • Experience questions — because they’re easy to talk about and help your discussion partners think about how they’re connected to your topic
  • Knowledge questions — these are also easier to answer (either you know or you don’t) and they help trigger background information that’s connected to your topic. It’s a good idea to start your discussions with these kinds of questions because, depending on what your partners already know, you may not have to spend time explaining some things.
  • Opinion questions — these are the hardest to answer. And although it may seem logical to leave these until the end of your presentation, it’s sometimes good to start with these, and then ask again to see if opinions have changed.

Essential Questions can function as both RQ and DQ. They are the questions that can connect to many different topics. Theye are questions that are timeless. They can be the start of your research project, and they can be the focus of your discussion. They may not have definitive answers, but they are essential to your research and discussion. They are, I believe, the kinds of questions that we’re here on earth — and especially at university — to consider.

They are the “deeper” questions, the questions that get beyond the ‘what,when,who,how’ and get to the ‘why’.

As one of my favorite professors in college once said,

“You’re going to leave this class with more questions than answers.”

It was the best class I’ve ever had.

Here’s a very useful list of Essential Questions for a variety of topics. This list may help you to think about your own DQ and RQ — not just the content but also the style/grammar of asking questions in English.

A few examples of Essential Questions from this site. These all would lead to great research projects!

When is it appropriate to challenge the beliefs or values of society?


What is community and what are the individual’s responsibility to the community as well as the community’s responsibility to the individual?


What are the limits, if any, of freedom of speech?


How do various cultures reward / recognize their heroes and “she-roes”?


In the face of adversity, what causes some individuals to prevail while others fail?


One thought on “More questions than answers

  1. Pingback: Week 4 : Freedom of speech and it’s limitation | mutsumim

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