Asking Good Questions


Current Events Template

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

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

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

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

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

What if the Declaration of Independence abolished slavery?

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

Should we clone humans?

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

Why do people abuse children?

Some other questions you can ask

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__________________?

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