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Asking Essential Questions: What is an essential question?

Inquiry is at the heart of all research. Learn how to use questions to frame and focus your research.

The Questioning Process

What is an essential question?

Open-ended

no simple or single right answer
addressed through reason rather than opinion/belief

Thought-provoking

unique, often counterintuitive or controversial
answers through problem solving (not found, but invented)
generate new questions

Universal

addresses fundamental issues
addresses interdisciplinary concepts, central to greater understanding

Developing an Essential Question

Developing an essential question....

Who?

Substitution

Who else…? Who might…?
NOT Who did…?

What?

Predict (hypothesis posed)

Modify/Magnify/Minimize

Eliminate/Reverse/Alternative

What if…? 
NOT What is…?

When?
Which?

Where?

Compare and Contrast

Which one…? 
Here or there?  
Now or later?

Why?

Cause and Effect

Why do things happen the way they do?

How?

Propose Solution

 

Which?

Evidence-based Decision 

 

Should?

Moral/Ethical/Practical reasoning

 

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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