Educator Network FAQ

Why is the skill of question formulation so significant?
The ability to formulate one’s own questions may be, other than basic literacy, the most important learning skills available to a student, an employee, a scientist and a citizen.

Students who ask questions, who ask good questions, and who can set and follow a line of inquiry will succeed at a far higher rate than those who either do not know how to formulate their own questions or simply fail to regularly generate their own questions.

Asking questions is one of the most important skills for learning.  When students learn to ask questions they become more engaged, have more ownership of their learning and learn more.

Why isn’t the skill of question formulation taught in schools?
The ability to produce questions, improve questions and prioritize questions may be one of the most important—yet too often overlooked—skills that a student can acquire in their formal education. However, this skill is rarely, if ever, deliberately taught to students from kindergarten through high school.  Most people acquire the skill through exposure to an elite education, or years of higher education, advanced training and much professional experience.
What is the Question Formulation Technique™ (QFT)™?
The QFT strategy is a powerful, low-tech tool that has been utilized by educators in communities throughout the United States and around the world to help students develop their ability to:

·   produce their own questions
·   improve their questions
·   prioritize and strategize on how to use their questions

As students go through the QFT process, they practice three fundamentally important thinking abilities: divergent thinking, convergent thinking and metacognition.

What is my role as a teacher?
Typically, questions are seen as the province of teachers, who spend years figuring out how to craft questions and fine-tune them to stimulate students’ curiosity or engage them more effectively. We have found that teaching students to ask their own questions can accomplish these same goals while teaching a critical lifelong skill.

Teachers have consistently reported that the QFT process helps with classroom management and allows them to facilitate a student-centered classroom.   Asking questions is a transformative and transferable skill for students.  Teachers help students develop an essential skill that is transferable beyond the classroom.

You are already using questions to drive your instruction by asking questions of students.   The same way you can use student questions.  The difference here is that you are using the questions students produce.

What are the Rules for Producing Questions?
The Rules for Producing Questions provide a deceptively simple structure for creating the ideal conditions for question formulation.  Students are immediately engaged in a challenging intellectual task that requires speculation, conjecture and open-ended exploration.

Each of the four rules stimulates behaviors that encourage effective and consistent question formulation skills.

How much time do I need to teach the QFT?
It may take a minimum of 40 – 45 minutes for your students to complete all six steps the first time you introduce the QFT process in your classroom.   As your students gain experience using the QFT, you will find your students can run through the process very quickly, in 10 to 15 minutes, even when working independently or in small groups.
How often should I use the QFT with my class?
You can use the QFT as often as you want.  Depending on your purpose, you will use all six-steps or selected steps in the process. For example, you can use it at the beginning of a lesson or unit to help students set their learning agenda; or in the middle to help students focus or at the end to assess what students learned and any gaps in their learning.
How do I assess the quality of student questions?
The goal of the Question Formulation Technique™ is to help students develop their ability to ask questions. Allowing students to ask all kinds of questions and not placing value will help build their confidence is asking questions.
How do we know what makes a good question?
You may have ideas about what constitutes a good question but part of the process is to turn as much of thinking as possible to the students.   You can do that by setting specific criteria and helping your students make connections between their questions and your learning goals.
How do students use their questions?
You should have a plan about what to do with the questions from the beginning when you design the QFocus and name your purpose in using the Question Formulation Technique.

The goal is for students to learn to think in questions.  Answering the questions is not a main goal but part of the process is to use student questions.   You or you and the students will decide what action to take, including answering the questions.

Students use their questions to:
  • develop a project
  • independent project
  • set their learning agenda
  • write an essay
  • research paper
  • experiments
Teacher uses student questions to:
  • guide a reading
  • assess students knowledge
  • plan a lesson
  • assessment tool