Week 3- Complete Creating Discussion Questions


  1. Create an open-ended discussion question requiring information
  2. Create an open-ended, point of view, discussion question.
  3. Create an open-ended, accuracy discussion question.

Thinking is Driven by Questions

When instructors attempt to “cover content” over “engaged thinking” they do not fully appreciate or understand the role of questions in teaching content.

  1. There is a deep misunderstanding about the significance of questions in the learning (and thinking) process.
    • In fact every textbook could be rewritten by translating statements into questions.
    • Most instruction ignores questions by spoon feeding learners “answers.”
    • When we teach by giving answers were are not teaching learners how to think critically.
  2. Critical thinking is not driven by answers but by questions.
    • Questions define tasks, express problems and describe issues.
    • Answers on the other hand, often signal a full stop in thought.
  3. Only when an answer generates a further question does thought continue its life as such.
    • This is why it is true that only students who have questions are really thinking and learning.
    • The quality of the questions students ask determines the quality of the thinking they are doing.
  4. It is possible to give students an examination on any subject by just asking them to list all of the questions that they have about a subject, including all questions generated by their first list of questions.
    • That we do not test students by asking them to list questions and explain their significance is again evidence of the privileged status we give to answers isolated from questions.

Ask questions to generate further questions- not thought-stopping answers!

From: The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning

Three Categories of Questions: Crucial Distinctions

It is essential when thinking critically to clearly distinguish three different kinds of questions:

  1. Those with one right answer (factual questions fall into this category). What is the boiling point of lead?
  2. Those with better or worse answers (well-reasoned or poorly reasoned answers). How can we best address the most basic and significant economic problems of the nation today?
  3. Those with as many answers as there are different human preferences (a category in which mere opinion does rule).Which would you prefer, a vacation in the mountains or one at the seashore?

Only the third kind of question is a matter of sheer opinion. The second kind is a matter of reasoned judgment — we can rationally evaluate answers to the question (using universal intellectual standards such as clarity, depth, consistency and so forth).

When questions that require better or worse answers are treated as matters of opinion, pseudo critical thinking occurs. Students come, then, to uncritically assume that everyone’s “opinion” is of equal value. Their capacity to appreciate the importance of intellectual standards diminishes, and we can expect to hear questions such as these: What if I don’t like these standards? Why shouldn’t I use my own standards? Don’t I have a right to my own opinion? What if I’m just an emotional person? What if I like to follow my intuition? What if I don’t believe in being “rational?” They then fail to see the difference between offering legitimate reasons and evidence in support of a view and simply asserting the view as true.

The failure to teach students to recognize, value, and respect good reasoning is one of the most significant failings of education today.

(Paul, R. and Elder, L. (October 1996). Foundation For Critical Thinking, Online at website: www.criticalthinking.org)

Feeding Students Endless Content to Remember

Feeding students endless content to remember (that is, declarative sentences to remember) is akin to repeatedly stepping on the brakes in a vehicle that is, unfortunately, already at rest. Instead, students need questions to turn on their intellectual engines and they need to generate questions from our questions to get their thinking to go somewhere. Thinking is of no use unless it goes somewhere, and again, the questions we ask determine where our thinking goes.


Deep questions drive our thought underneath the surface of things, force us to deal with complexity.

  • Questions of purpose force us to define our task.
  • Questions of information force us to look at our sources of information as well as at the quality of our information.
  • Questions of interpretation force us to examine how we are organizing or giving meaning to information.
  • Questions of assumption force us to examine what we are taking for granted.
  • Questions of implication force us to follow out where our thinking is going.
  • Questions of point of view force us to examine our point of view and to consider other relevant points of view.
  • Questions of relevance force us to discriminate what does and what does not bear on a question.
  • Questions of accuracy force us to evaluate and test for truth and correctness.
  • Questions of precision force us to give details and be specific.
  • Questions of consistency force us to examine our thinking for contradictions.
  • Questions of logic force us to consider how we are putting the whole of our thought together, to make sure that it all adds up and makes sense within a reasonable system of some kind.

Dead Questions Reflect Dead Minds

Unfortunately, most students ask virtually none of these thought-stimulating types of questions. They tend to stick to dead questions like “Is this going to be on the test?”, questions that imply the desire not to think. Most teachers in turn are not themselves generators of questions and answers of their own, that is, are not seriously engaged in thinking through or rethinking through their own subjects. Rather, they are purveyors of the questions and answers of others-usually those of a textbook.

We must continually remind ourselves that thinking begins with respect to some content only when questions are generated by both teachers and students. No questions equals no understanding. Superficial questions equals superficial understanding. Most students typically have no questions. They not only sit in silence; their minds are silent at well. Hence, the questions they do have tend to be superficial and ill-informed. This demonstrates that most of the time they are not thinking through the content they are presumed to be learning. This demonstrates that most of the time they are not learning the content they are presumed to be learning.

If we want thinking we must stimulate it with questions that lead students to further questions. We must overcome what previous schooling has done to the thinking of students. We must resuscitate minds that are largely dead when we receive them. We must give our students what might be called “artificial cogitation” (the intellectual equivalent of artificial respiration).

{In Critical Thinking Handbook: Basic Theory and Instructional Structures}

 Activity-Earn Your Badge

Step 2B-

  1. Create an open-ended discussion question requiring information
  2. Create an open-ended, point of view, discussion question.
  3. Create an open-ended, accuracy discussion question.

  1. Login to UH Google Drive: 
  2. Click on and Make a Copy>   Step 2B Action Plan: Creating Discussion Questions. 
  3. Change the name of your document. Replace the word copy with your name.
  4. Complete the Action Items by Thursday. Complete creating all of your discussion questions.
  5. By the end of Thursday (recommended to have content get the comments started) share your document and enable commenting  (see the directions below) HERE in the Google+ Community
  6. In the  Google+ Community, comment ON two other Google Doc worksheets, by the end of Sunday. Provide further insight into to the participant’s results. Practice improving your online interaction with insightful commenting.
How to share your Google Doc  with comments
1. Open your google document and click share in upper right corner.


2. In share with others click on “Get shareable link”.

get sharaeable link

3.  Choose anyone at the University of Hawaii with the link can comment.

share with comments

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