Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Key components to creating powerful questions

The Three key components to creating powerful questions are construction, scope, and assumptions (Vogt et al, 2003).

Construction refers to the actual linguistic wording of the questions, which can impact its effectiveness. It is important for us as peace educators carefully craft our questions with the right words so as to ensure our audience clearly understands what is required of them. In crafting our questions we must avoid vagueness and use of words that could lead our audience to misconstrue what we actually mean. It is also essential to consider the students’ literary levels and linguistic competence when crafting questions. A question that is well understood by a University graduate class will make little sense to a group of primary school pupils.

Like it is rightly noted in the handbook, the scope of a question can be narrow or broad, depending on how it is asked. A narrower scope is often easier in terms of devising an action plan. Instead of asking a question that might seem larger than life to an audience, it will be best to craft the question to deal with a specific part of a reality and most importantly adapted to a context the audience can grasp. Instead of asking “How can we solve the problem of employment in the world?”, it might be best to ask “In what ways can we reduce the level of employment in Nigeria?”. The first question, in attempting to deal with the global perspective might produce impractical answers given simply to answer the teacher, while the second question could lead to answers that are directly related to our society.


The third element in creating a powerful question is bringing awareness to the assumptions that are implicit in the question. By creating questions that highlight the assumptions in the questions, we are able to guide our audience to make use of their critical consciousness to examine their values and beliefs.
As stated in the handbook, examining hidden assumptions and beliefs is a key part of critical education and peace education.
As part of our self-reflection, we should try to always try examining implicit assumptions as much as possible, in ourselves:
• The reasons for our beliefs about what we read and learn

• Constantly critically examining the hidden assumptions in the books and literature we read and in regards to our culture.
This is an important way to uncover our own ethnocentricities.

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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi (mallamibro@gmail.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.