About the Asking Great Questions category

Once you’ve chosen your top three questions from Asking Great Question Pt. 2 share them by creating a new topic and also comment on your colleagues contributions. Share what it is about these questions that you find valuable.

The only truly open question I came up with initially was “What is the system of ropes used for?” Responding to the question requires a coherent explanation of a system of causes and effects. My other initial questions “Where was this?” “When was this?” could be answered with one word or phrase.

It feels like that the closed questions are inquires/clarifications of the facts (who, where, when), where as the open questions are seeking explanations on things that are more interpretative and subjective. We could turn a closed question like “who are these people?” to an open question like “how are these people similar/different from us?” to add a subjective/interpretative dimension.

Although closed question might challenge students insofar as the answers, although definite, might require some searching. However, I think open questions such as “purpose of the rope?”, “how are these people similar/different”, or “what’s the significance of what they’re doing” are much more challenging to students.

I had many closed questions that I was able to expand into open questions fairly easily. I was mostly intrigued by the people in the photos and what their lives were like. These questions come from that. What was it like for the people who were performing the tasks i.e. any dangers, death?
Why were these people performing this task - who was behind it?
What were the people like who were there i.e. their lifestyles and general livelihood?

I really did like the question about the system of ropes. Partially because I had to look back at the photo for it. I focused on other areas and while I saw the ropes, it did not register that they were a system.

It seems like your questions were similar to mine. I also wondered about the people and how they were in comparison.

I think the biggest difference between closed and open questions are that the answers to closed questions are much more about what you can immediately see. Whereas open questions take deeper engagement, thinking, or research to answer.

My open questions were:

  1. What meaning or significance do the people on the mountain gain from completing their activities?
  2. What outside influences affect the people and what they are doing on the mountain?
  3. What purpose does this work serve both the people working and their greater community?

I like that your questions probe deeper into the motivations and the histories of the people! Those are great ways to dig into a topic.

The top three questions I chose:
Are any potential risks of this project outweighed by the benefits?
Is this project for the benefit of the few or the many?
What does the photo say about this historical period?

I think the boundary between open and closed question is fuzzy at times. I can definitely see a variety of responses posted for both “where was this?” and “when was this?” The various responses could lead to additional dialogue about the photo and its importance.

Our questions have definite overlapping themes and that was neat to see. Additionally, I usually have at least one student exasperated that discussion prompts have “many right answers.” Your response about “deeper engagement” reminded me of that situation.