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Tools, tutorials, and all sorts of resources to help you successfully navigate the research process!
Last Updated: Oct 27, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Asking good questions Print Page

SLAV Question Generator


Invention (Purdue OWL)


Bloom's Taxonomy Question Stems


Question Brainstormer

As a Google Template


 Questions sample responses




Topic #1 Civil War


Topic #2  Shakespeare

Which one?  (Collect information to make an informed choice.)

E.g. Which 20th Century president did the most to promote civil rights?



Which Civil War general was the best military strategist?



Which of Shakespeare’s tragedies has the most relevance for today’s politicians?

Which of the characters in Romeo and Juliet is most worthy of punishment?

How?  (Understand problems and perspectives, weigh options, and propose solutions.)

E.g. How should we solve the problem of water pollution in our neighborhood?



How did the scientific advances of the 19th century affect the outcome of the Civil War? (Students might choose among advances in communications, transportation, weaponry, etc.)


How does Shakespeare’s subplot help us better understand the themes of _____?

What if? (Use the knowledge you have to pose a hypothesis and consider options.)

E.g. What if the Declaration of Independence abolished slavery?

What if General Lee had better intelligence at Gettysburg?



What if Brutus had made the final funeral oration in Julius Caesar?

Should?  (Make a moral or practical decision based on evidence.)

E.g. Should we clone humans?


Should Confederate symbols be used in official state flags and logos today?


Should Hamlet have minded his own business?

Why? (Understand and explain relationships to get to the essence of a complicated issue.)

E.g. Why do people abuse children?


Why did Great Britain favor the South during the Civil War?



Why do Shakespeare’s plays continue to have meaning for today’s students?

Why does Shakespeare use so many references to the natural and unnatural in Macbeth?


Developing Questions for a History Project

As you consider moving from a topic to a thesis for history research, consider these “template” questions to help you develop your own thoughtful question to explore.

“How” questions: 

How does hindsight help us understand_____________?

How did _________ get this way?

How have particular lessons of the past instructed us for the future?

How would you have solved (how should the President have


How has _________ reflected the American dream over the course of the


How have efforts of reform impacted__________ ? 

How significant were the efforts of individuals in _______________?

How did one area of culture influence another in a particular time period?

(For instance, how did politics influence fashion?  How did technology

influence food?)

How has __________changed over the period of _______and why?

How did ______play in a role in the evolution of the _____ century (decade)?

“Which” questions:

Which was the best (or three best) or worst: 

Events? (Lindbergh flight, lunar landing)

Discoveries? (nuclear fission? vaccines? plastics?)

People? (artist?  musician? politician?)

Literary movement? (beat period, Harlem renaissance) 

Legal decision?  (Brown vs. the Board of Education? Roe vs. Wade?

Amendment?  (prohibition? women’s right to vote? allowing 18-year olds

right to vote? defeat of the ERA?) 

Which were the biggest mistakes?

Which two decades were the most similar or most different?  Why?

Which were the major conflicts within _________?  Have these conflicts been

repeated?  Which resolutions, or attempted resolutions were the most effective?  How would you have advised resolving these conflicts?

Which period (or region) would choose to live in?  Which would you definitely not choose to live in?

Which were the most influential catalysts for change in this area?

 “Why” questions:

            Why did the U.S. __________________during this period?

            Why did _____________________(women, slaves, Native Americans, a political group,the President, foreign governments) behave

            or respond as they did during__________________?


Current Events Template

CURRENT EVENTS                               

Complete the following to help you analyze the event you've selected:












PRIOR KNOWLEDGE? What did you already know about this topic?




MAIN POINTS: Use keywords and "bullets", not full sentences.





AUTHOR BIAS:  support/opposes/neutral



QUOTE: Identify a quote to back up your assessment of the author's view or a quote that sums up the essence of the article.




SO WHAT? (Why is this news important? Who is likely to feel the impact of this news?  What difference does it make?)






REACTION: What is your personal reaction to this news? How does the new information change your understanding this topic?





QUESTIONS: What issues remain unanswered? What else would you like to know?











Bowdoin College: How to Ask Good Questions


Visible Thinking Core Routines

The core routines are a set of seven or so routines that target different types of thinking from across the modules. These routines are easy to get started with and are commonly found in Visible Thinking teachers' toolkits. Try getting started with with one of these routines.

What Makes You Say That? Interpretation with justification routine

Think Puzzle Explore A routine that sets the stage for deeper inquiry

Think Pair Share A routine for active reasoning and explanation

Circle of Viewpoints A routine for exploring diverse perspectives

I used to Think... Now I think... A routine for reflecting on how and why our thinking has changed

See Think Wonder A routine for exploring works of art and other
interesting things

Compass Points A routine for examining propositions

(This will download all Core Routines)


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