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Four Levels of Questions

One way to learn is to ask yourself questions, and then to answer them — which usually leads to more questions. This question/answser style is sometimes called the method of inquiry and is based on the ideas of Socrates.

But what questions should you ask?

Here is a list of questions that can help you get started. It is not an exhaustive list. You should be able to come up with more questions that just these; but these will get you started.

The questions are arranged into four levels. You should start with level 1 questions and work your way to level 4 questions.

Given any concept, idea, or thing (e.g. free body diagrams, or staplers, or hospitals), just substitute it for XX in the questions.

Level 1: facts and basic information

  • What is the definition of XX?
  • How many definitions are there?
  • Which definition(s) makes most sense to you?
  • Who did/invented/discovered XX?
  • When does XX occur?
  • Under what circumstances does XX occur?
  • When is XX supposed to be carried out?
  • What is the environment in which XX exists, operates, or is used?
  • How much or how many XX exist? Where?
  • How is XX distributed?
  • How does the amount of XX change in time?
  • What is an example of XX? (Name them)

Level 2: analysis and interpretation

  • How did XX happen, occur, or come to be?
  • What causes XX to happen, occur, or come to be?
  • What are the reasons for/that XX?
  • What results from XX occuring or being used?
  • What are the types of XX?
  • How does XX function/work/occur?
  • What are my own examples of XX?
  • What is the relationship between XX and things in XX's environment?
  • How does XX change things in XX's environment?
  • How is XX similar/different from things in XX's environment?
  • How is XX similar/different to things that do the same thing as XX?
  • What does XX mean in context? (NOT just a definition)
  • What conclusions can be drawn from the answers to these questions?
  • What problems/conflicts/issues arise from the answers to these questions?
  • What are the possible resolutions/solutions to the problems/conflicts/issues raised?
  • What is the point (main argument or thesis) presented by XX?
  • How is this argument developed?
  • What evidence/proof/support is provided for this argument?
  • What are alternative explanations/theories that have been developed by others?

Level 3: hypothesis and prediction

  • If XX were to occur, then what would happen in its environment or context?
  • If XX were changed, then what else would change in its environment or context?
  • What does theory XX predict will happen in a given environment or context?
  • What hypothesis or theory explains the occurence or existence of XX in the given environment or context?

Level 4: critical analysis and evaluation

  • Is XX good/bad? Why?
  • Is XX correct/incorrect? Why?
  • Is XX effective/ineffective? Why?
  • Is XX relevant/irrelevant to some context? Why?
  • Is XX logical/illogical in some context? Why?
  • Is XX applicable/inapplicable in some context? Why?
  • Is XX proven/unproven? Why? Proven with respect to what?
  • Is XX ethical/unethical? Why?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of XX? Why?
  • What is the best solution to the problem/conflict/issue? Why?
  • What should or should not happen? Why?
  • Do I agree or disagree with XX? Why?
  • What is my opinion? What support do I have for my opinion?
design/four_levels_of_questions.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)