Starting Research Off Right Asking Questions
Closed Vs. Open Questions • Closed questions typically result in “yes/no” answers, or short, one word or sentence answers. • Did you drive to school today? (Y/N) • How long did it take to get here? (short answer)
Closed Vs. Open Questions • Open questions require much longer answers and with more depth. They can include facts, commentary, bias and opinion. • Why did the governor of Arkansas refuse to accept the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of the Little Rock Nine? (Need to understand attitudes, people as well as events.)
Using Closed Questions in Research • Helps to get specific facts straight. • Did the governor of Arkansas call out the National Guard? (Y/N) • Who were the Little Rock Nine? (Names) • Did all of the Little Rock Nine remain in the desegregated school? (Y/N) • Were any of the Little Rock Nine injured or threatened? (Y/N)
Using Open Questions in Research • Probes deeper into the issue or idea, makes it more “real”. • Why was desegregation such a “big deal” in Arkansas at that time? (explores history of racism and white/black relationships in the South) • Why did people fear desegregation in schools? (probing/reflective question tries to understand the attitudes that played a role in this historical event)
Keep closed questions to about 20% in your research It provides the “skeleton” of your information Open questions should make up about 80% of your research These give your research “flesh and blood” 20/80 Research “Rule”
Too many CLOSED questions can lead to weak research and dead-ends. They can lead to “cut and paste” research.
More OPEN questions promote reading, critical thinking and analysis of the information you find.
Use CLOSED questions to get started with basic FACTS (build the skeleton) dates names places statistics/numbers Use OPEN questions to give depth and meaning to your research (the body) causes/effects reasons/justifications attitudes/opinions methods/means purposes/agendas Question Uses
Use your questions to... • Focus your research (take notes based on questions) • Give your research direction • Formulate a thesis statement • Lead to further questions that allow deeper exploration