Learning about the Question Formulation Technique in my graduate studies at Texas Woman’s University has been one of the most valuable additions to my teaching toolkit. This presentation has links to one of the developer’s TEDx talk as well as a video that was made in my classroom at the beginning of the year’s Sculpture I class. You can find out how I have the students return to the essential questions they generated for themselves throughout their creative process, from initial design to their end of project reflection. QFT is a powerful, easy and meaningful way to help our students be more engaged and in charge of their learning.
Essential Question Strategies and the Question Formulation Technique
drops off after the
age of 4
• Our current
does not teach
our students how
to formulate their
THE IMPORTANCE OF QUESTIONING
The Right Question Institute has a simple, easy
process for teaching students how to ask their
own questions in order to drive their own
thinking and learning.
Authors Dan Rothstein
and Luz Santana
developed QFT over
the course of 20
years of teaching
DEVELOPERS OF THE QUESTION FORMULATION
TECHNIQUE - QFT
Dan Rothstien TEDx Talk here
WATCH THE QUESTION FORMULATION
TECHNIQUE IN ACTION IN THIS VIMEO VIDEO
Questions generated by students
• Why do monsters scare people?
• Do monsters feel bad about being monsters?
• How do their looks explain their emotions?
• How do monsters feel about being monsters?
• What kind of feelings to do monsters have towards
• Why do monsters behave bad?
• What makes a monster a monster?
• What makes a monster strong?
• What makes a monster scary?
• What are the emotions monsters show?
• What does a monster love?
RETURNING TO QUESTIONS
In order to keep the questions at the center of their learning, they
were referred to in all phases of the art production.
• I compiled a list of all of the questions each class generated.
• Each student chose 3 questions from the master list that they
would use during the design phase of their monster.
• Once their project was completed, they wrote a reflection about
their monster including their driving questions and how they
shaped their creation.
Here are some of their reflection responses…
I used the question that related the personality of
my monster with my own.
We are both weird and I thought that I’d portray
that into the physical features of my monster. The
way I formed his body into his weird/creepy
position definitely animated him. My monster’s
name is Wesley, but we can call him Wes for
short. My monster has shoes and special marks
on his body. I think that his shoes give him
One of the questions I chose was: How do you make
it look alive? I made it look alive by giving it human
characteristics like eyes, ears and toes.
Another question was: How does the color explain
how the monster feels? My monster is a light
purple and light orange which are happy colors.
My 3rd question was: How did you make it fit
your personality? I made my monster girly by
painting it with girly colors.
Does a monster have feelings?
Are all monsters bad?
Do monsters care?
These questions helped me
decide the colors and
appearance of my monster. My
monster is to represent
knowledge. The colors of my
monster help to give it the
feeling of strength.
He is named Tork – he is named
that because it sounds firm.
My 3 questions were: what do monsters feel, why do
monsters feel, and how do monsters express their
These questions helped me a lot by deciding what mood
my monster should be in, and how should I make her
show that feeling/mood? I animated my monster by
giving her a situation. The situation was that she is a
little kid monster and she saw something funny, so she is
laughing out loud. I also wanted my monster to have some
action, so she is clapping and swinging her legs.
I chose: What do monsters feel? Do monsters feel they are
monsters? Do monsters feel scary?
This shaped my concept which
is the transition from human to
monster. Little by little, people
turn into monsters and one day
they look into their mirror and
say, “Wow! I’m a monster!”
My Inspiration was the day I
realized I was a monster. I was
hanging out with some of the
worst people ever. We were true
monsters. We only gossiped and made fun of others. It took a year of being made
fun of by them to have that moment where I realized I was a monster too.
Suggestions for using QFT in
your students’ art projects
• Engage students at the beginning of a project by developing their
own essential questions using QFT
• Teacher compiles all responses from class for students to choose
the 3 questions they want to use to drive their learning
• Students write their 3 questions in their sketchbook and answers
them to help them with their design process
• Instructor checks that student has questions and answers along
with their preliminary design
• In an end of project reflection, ask the students to elaborate on how
the questions helped them design and create their art project
• Miller, C. (N.D.). Artist•Teacher•Journal a blog and website about teaching and
making art. Retrieved from: http://artistteacherjournal.com/
• Rothstein, D. & Santana, L. (2011). Make just one change: teach students to ask
their own questions. Cambridge, MA : Harvard Education Press.
• TEDxSomerville (May 19, 2012). Dan Rothstein: did Socrates get it wrong?
Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JdczdsYBNA
• The Right Question Institute (N.D.). Retrieved from:
Visit my website for a link to this presentation