Guide to Developing Good Questions

This question development guide was one first developed in a previous school which I have updated recently. The Word version of this is formatted nicely but this gives a good idea of how it works:

Brainstorm of your early ideas 

Questions/topics/areas/issues related to theme that you may be interested in developing further

Relevance of your topic

Is this topic really interesting to you? Why?
Have you explored this topic before? If so, how is your idea this time different to what you have learnt previously?
Is this topic one that is significant to society, as well as to my life? How and why?

What big ideas and/or concepts will I learn about from doing this topic?

How do my ideas for an inquiry so far relate to what we have been doing in class?

Developing good inquiry questions

There are two main types of questions:

  • Questions which require you to simply gather information.
  • Questions which require you to make a reasoned judgement about information. A reasoned judgement is when you have to make a good decision about the importance or significance of the information you have found. This second type of question is what you need to develop.

Here are some examples of the two types of question:

Information gathering questions


Inquiry questions


How do scientists genetically engineer organisms? Should scientists genetically engineer organisms?
Why did the American government drop a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Should the American government have dropped a bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
How does a nuclear power station work? Is nuclear power the best solution for New Zealand’s future energy needs?
What happens in Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”? How is Romeo and Juliet relevant to understanding people and/or society today?

Now that you have brainstormed some ideas, what is your final choice of a topic?

What is the inquiry question you will use to explore this topic?

To ensure you have a powerful inquiry question, use the following criteria:

  • Does my question have the potential to explore big ideas and/or concepts about the world?

Yes          (continue)

No           (Go back to page 2 for help)

  • Is my question relevant in some way to my life now and in the future?

Yes          (continue)

No           (Go back to page 1 for help)

  • Is an understanding of this question valuable and useful in the world beyond school?

Yes          (continue)

No           (Go back to page 1 and 2 for help)

  • Is this question suitably challenging for me?

No           (Go back to page 1 and 2 for help)

Yes          (continue)

  • Does this question have the potential to engage and interest me?

Yes          (continue)

No           (Go back to page 1 and 2 for help)

  • Google test your question: Type it into Google. Do all the links give a similar answer?

No          (continue)

Yes           (Go back to page 2 for help)

What is your revised inquiry question?




4 thoughts on “Guide to Developing Good Questions

  1. Pingback: Year 10 Inquiry Questions (Hopefully Ungoogleable) | Steve Mouldey

  2. Pingback: Inquiry | Pearltrees

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