"I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is, what?" Lewis Carroll (1865), “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
“That is a very good question!” the phrase we hear in response and the phrase that, due to my current research interest, recently has started attracting my attention. While my research is on questions asked by teachers in class, thinking about the ways and reasons for query is a skill that can guide every student when reading, listening, and working on a research project. Unlike other posts of mine, this one is not aimed at building or proposing an argument, rather giving a recommendation, as some resources related to my project, ultimately, can be of relevance for those involved in research in general.
The significance of asking questions was acknowledged long before our century. The works by Plato appraised Socrates’s teaching skills to use questions to guide learners in solving some geometric problems. Similar technique, recognized now as “Socratic method”, used (we know from Plato) to interrogate his opponents in public debates on moral principles. He was acting as a person knowing a little about the issue and constantly responding with questions. The Socratic method is, basically, asking a person, you are in dialogue with, a series of questions and follow up questions (Stenning et al., 2016). This can be very frustrating, for both, the person asking and the person answering the question: even a few questions might reveal that you do not know much about the topic. However, the realization that you may be lacking some knowledge on the area of your interest can be motivating for learning it deeper. Thus, ask as many possible question on your topic before you arrive at the most important one.
Once, you are clear with what you are going to research, you have two option to lead you through the process: “the sponge” and “panning for gold” principles (Browne & Keeley, 2007, p. 3). While the first is passive in nature, the second is more engaging and involves asking questions. I think you would prefer positioning yourself as active learners. Browne & Keeley (2007) suggest “[t]o make this choice, you must read with a special attitude—a question asking attitude…The writer is trying to speak to you, and you should try to talk back to him, even though he is not present” (Browne & Keeley, 2007, p. 4). This means asking every single material questions, such as, What is my conclusion? Why would I believe in what someone is trying to convince me? Posing questions to yourself leads to better understanding the topic and providing further directions for your work.
To conclude, the readings suggest that there are no right or wrong questions and there are no bad and good answers, as long as they are related to your topic. Keep asking questions and, more importantly, looking for the answers. This strategy will help you in making right decisions for your project.
Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2007). Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking (8th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.