By turning your topic into an an essential question and asking good supporting questions, you are ensuring that your results show evidence of original and inventive ideas based upon logical conclusions and thorough research.
Asking good questions
Research PapersMaking the Effort More Than aGame of Trivial Pursuit™
The results of your researchshould be: More than just the facts and a summary of other people’s ideas Based on new ideas and synthesis
“Questions and questioning may be the most powerful technologies of all.” —Jamie McKenzie in Beyond Technology
Essential questions They point to the heart of a subject or topic, especially its controversies. They generate multiple plausible answers, perspectives, and research directions- leading to other questions. They cast old knowledge, ideas, texts in a new light; they make the familiar strange and the strange familiar.
Essential questionscontinued… They lead to discovery and uncoverage, as opposed to “coverage.” They engender further and deepening interest in the subject. They are provocative, enticing, and engagingly framed.
Essential questions are higher-order, in Blooms sense: they are always matters of analysis, synthesis, and evaluative judgment. You must “go beyond” the information given.
Answers to essential questions cannot be found. They must be invented. What you can find are answers to many of the questions that provide background information for your inquiry.
Examples What would life in America be like today if the the U.S. had not been involved in World Wars I & II? How might our lives be different if the electoral college were not a significant part of the election process? How do we learn about American life through fiction? What is poverty? Who is an American? How have attitudes of the American people been influenced by cinema over time? Is U.S. history a history of progress?
Student examples Did the lives and writings of the women in the Beat generation serve as precursors to the feminist movement in the 1970s? Is the war on drugs possible?
Works CitedCiardiello, Angelo. Did you ask a good question today? Alternative cognitive and metacognitive strategies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 42, 210-219, 1998.McKenzie, Jamie. Beyond Technology: Questioning, Research, and the Information Literate School. Bellingham, WA: FNO Press, 2000.Wiggins, Grant and McTighe, Jay. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998.
Inorder for your research paper to be more than a game of Trivial Pursuit™ you must critically and creatively process the information you find.