Crafting good questions

The Conversation Café provides some guidance on how teachers might craft good questions. www.conversationcafe.org

Some ideas are summarised below.

 

 

Characteristics of a good question:

  • There are no embedded cultural, political, or ideological assumptions.
  • It involves both head and heart. People can respond with their feelings and their thoughts.
  • It has not already been answered conclusively―yet finding an answer is crucial to moving forward.
  • If they choose, people can tell a story or recall an experience that relates to the question.
  • Anyone at the table could have something valuable to say―whatever their age, race, gender, or level of education may be.
  • Cant be answered with a yes or no, or a platitude.
  • Even though broad, the question applies to many of the real issues we each and all face.
  • Makes you want to find an answer and do something about it.

Questions for Connecting Ideas and Finding Deeper Insight:

  • Whats taking shape? What are you hearing underneath the variety of opinions being expressed? Whats in the centre of the table?
  • Whats emerging here for you? What new connections are you making?
  • What had real meaning for you from what youve heard? What surprised you? What challenged you?
  • Whats missing from this picture so far? What is it were not seeing? What do we need more clarity about?
  • Whats been your/our major learning, insight, or discovery so far?
  • Whats the next level of thinking we need to do?
  • If there was one thing that hasnt yet been said in order to reach a deeper level of understanding/clarity, what would that be?

 

Questions That Create Forward Movement

  • What would it take to create change on this issue?
  • What could happen that would enable you/us to feel fully engaged and energized about (your situation)?
  • Whats possible here and who cares? (rather than Whats wrong here and whos responsible?)
  • What needs our immediate attention going forward?
  • If our success was completely guaranteed, what bold steps might we choose?
  • How can we support each other in taking the next steps? What unique contribution can we each make?
  • What challenges might come our way and how might we meet them?
  • What conversation, if begun today, could ripple out in a way that created new possibilities for the future of (your situation)?
  • What seed might we plant together today that could make the most difference to the future of (your situation)?

 

Resources:

Vogt, E., Brown, J., and Issacs, D. (2003). The Art of Powerful Questions: Catalyzing Insight, Innovation, and Action.