In both education and journalism, the formation of thought-provoking questions is an eternal challenge.
Within education, essential questions form the foundation of lesson planning. The right question can transform a classroom into an engaged classroom — in the same way a great question can mean the difference between a standard interview and a memorable one.
According to Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins, these are the seven elements of an essential question:
- Is open-ended; that is, it typically will not have a single, final, and correct answer.
- Is thought-provoking and intellectually engaging, often sparking discussion and debate.
- Calls for higher-order thinking, such as analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction. It cannot be effectively answered by recall alone.
- Points toward important, transferrable ideas within (and sometimes across) disciplines.
- Raises additional questions and sparks further inquiry.
- Requires support and justification, not just an answer.
- Recurs over time; that is, the question can and should be revisited again and again.
McTighe, J. & Wiggins, G. (2013). Essential questions: Opening doors to student understanding. ASCD Member Books.