Teaching students the foundational skill of question formulation that leads to students who are more engaged, take ownership of their own learning and learn more.

by Dan Rothstein

Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12


I believe it’s critical for students to be able to produce, improve, and strategize about how to formulate their own questions.

The Question Formulation Technique is used in a variety of situations and for different purposes. You might use it to:

-Introduce a unit to engage student’s curiosity,

-Do formative assessment in the middle of an activity to see what kinds of questions they are asking and,

-Do summative assessment to see what kinds of questions the students are asking once they’ve learned the material.

Teachers think about the purpose for which they are using the QFT, after which they design a “question focus.” The question focus switches the emphasis away from the teacher and toward the student, changing the dynamic in the classroom.

The four rules of the QFT are:

-Ask as many questions as you can;

-Do not stop to judge, discuss, or answer any of the questions;

-Change any questions into statements; and

-Capture every question exactly as it is asked.

These rules lead to students understanding the difference between closed and open-ended questions and developing the capacity to assess, prioritize, and rigorously formulate questions. The development of this skill produces students who are engaged and take more ownership over their learning.

About Dan Rothstein

Dan Rothstein, Co-Founder of the Right Question Institute, has spent many years learning from the people with whom he has worked all over the U.S. ...

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