Activity 1C: Question Formulation Technique
The Question Formulation Technique from The Right Question Institute is a pre-reading activity designed to help students learn how to ask questions, participate more effectively, and hold meaningful discussions around an identified topic. The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) is a simple step-by-step, rigorous process that facilitates the asking of many questions.
Step 1: The Question Focus (QFocus)
The “question focus” or “QFocus” is the stimulus, or springboard, that students will use to ask questions. The QFocus can be a topic, image, phrase, quote, or situation. An effective QFocus should be clear and should provoke and stimulate new lines of thinking. It should not be a question, and it should not suggest the teacher’s biases or preferences. When the teacher reveals the QFocus, they should not comment on it.
QFocus for In|Dignity might include:
- “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde
- “Anger can offer a sense of indignity to replace a sense of shame and offer a voice raised above others –which can be finally heard.” – Gina Barreca
- “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person [or animal] is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our souls when we look the other way.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Step 2. Produce Questions
Students use the QFocus to formulate as many questions as they can, thinking freely, without having to worry about the quality of the questions they are asking. Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any questions. Write down every question, exactly as it is stated. Change any statement into a question
Step 3: Prioritizing Questions
Once the questions have been written down, have students choose three questions from the list that represent those that are “most important,” the ones they wish to explore further, or simply the ones they want to address first. This can be done individually, or as a class.