Once you have identified your topic and potential sub-topics, what questions do you have? Asking good questions is key to getting good answers.

Signpost of Questions

Lower Order Questions

Some questions are designed to help you find and understand the basic information – to get your facts straight. They help you to understand a topic more thoroughly. This type of questioning is essential for understanding the basics of your topic.

Higher Order Questions

Some questions help you to take apart the information you have found, explore different aspects of the problem, see varying points of view, and develop your own opinions. Exploring these critical thinking questions will take your research to the next level.

Asking Good Research Questions

Here’s how it works. As you move down the chart, the type of questions move from lower order (basic but essential understanding) to higher order (critical thinking) questions.

Type of Question This type of question would use verbs like… Example
Knowledge: Identifying or recalling information. Describe, identify, outline What countries were allies of Britain during WWII?
Comprehension: Organizing, selecting and understanding facts and ideas. Explain, define, summarize What were the main causes of WWII?
Application: Applying known facts, rules and principles to new situations. Compare, contrast, demonstrate How did Hitler demonstrate the qualities of a dictator?
Analysis: Taking information apart to understand it more deeply. Analyze, interpret, infer Why did people follow Hitler so readily?
Synthesis: Bringing different ideas together to create new ideas. Create, predict, design, develop What would happen if Hitler were in power today?
Evaluation: Making judgements: forming and developing your own opinions. Evaluate, judge, defend, assess, critique Was Canada justified in entering WWII?

Developing Questions

Use these organizers to help you to develop good research questions.

Question Matrix

Use this question matrix to develop critical thinking questions.

  • Verbs such as might, should, would, could and will often create deeper “thinking” questions.
  • Questions beginning with how and why ask for analysis and opinion.

Copyable Resources

Question Pick-Mix document

Question Pick N Mix

Combine words from each cloud to develop good critical thinking questions.

Printable Resources

Research KNR Document

Research KNR

The Research KNR organizer asks you what you Know about the topic, what you Need to Know, and what Resources you think will help you to answer your research questions.

Printable Resources


Developing Questions Resources