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Creative, research-based instructional strategies – presented by teachers, for teachers.

The Spotlight on Strategies series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating Discovery Education digital media into your curriculum in meaningful, effective, and practical ways. The SOS series includes more than 150 different strategies you can use to engage students in active learning with digital media. Leave a comment and let us know how you’ll use this strategy in your class.

QFT (Question Formulation Technique)

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When students know how to ask their own questions, they take greater ownership of their learning, deepen comprehension, and make new connections. QFT (Question Formulation Technique ) is a teaching strategy that helps students produce their own questions, improve them, and strategize on how to use them. The technique can be used with students of all ages.
QFT can be used in a variety of settings and in a variety of different ways. Use it to introduce your students to a new unit of study, assess their understanding, or collect summative information at the culmination of a course of study. Students could also use QFT to develop science experiments, conduct research, or develop background knowledge to complete an assignment.
Reference: The Right Question Institute. Experiencing the question formulation technique™ (QFT™). Visit The Right Question Institute to learn more about the QFT, access free educational resources, and read educator-written blogs and articles about how they’re using the QFT in innovative ways to teach students how to ask their own questions.

Materials: Discovery Education media asset, paper, and pencil

  1. Design a Question Focus: This is typically a prompt that can be presented in the form of a statement, visual, or situation to “focus” and attract student attention and stimulate the formation of questions.
  2. Rules for Formulating Questions: Explain the rules for formulating questions to students. Students must follow these rules as they produce their own questions. Rules include:
    • Ask as many questions as you can
    • Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any of the questions
    • Write down every question exactly as it was stated
    • Change any statements into questions
  3. Produce Questions: Share the Question Focus and give students a few minutes to formulate as many questions as they can. Remind students to ask all kinds of questions about the topic, phrase, image, situation, etc. presented. This part of the process allows students to think freely without having to worry about the quality of the questions they are asking.
  4. Categorize the Questions: Ask students to review their questions and then sort them into two types: open and closed. This can be done as an independent task, small group, or whole group.
  5. Improve the Questions: Have students work together to change closed-ended questions into open-
    ended questions. This process will help students think about how the phrasing of a question can affect the depth, quality, and value of the information they will obtain.
  6. Prioritize the Questions: Have students prioritize their questions according to a teacher-supplied criteria, such as, “Choose the three questions you most want to explore further” or “Choose three testable questions” when working with a science experiment.
  7. Next Steps: Discuss and negotiate on what should happen next with the questions. Options include but are not limited to Socratic Seminar, independent or group research, or debate.
  8. Investigate the Questions: Encourage students to use Discovery Education digital media to gather information to help answer their questions and prepare for their discussions, debates, or presentations. Provide time for these
    culminating activities where students share what they’ve learned with their peers.
  9. Reflection: Finish by encouraging your students to reflect on what they have learned. It is important to review the steps and provide students the opportunity to review what they have learned by producing, improving, and
    prioritizing their questions.

The Question Formulation Technique encourages a change in traditional classroom practice because it moves the creation of questions to the students, with the teacher acting as a facilitator. Using QFT frequently in your classroom will increase participation in groups and can help with classroom management because learning focuses on student creation as students are encouraged to take charge of their own learning process.

Implement QFT as a cyclical process that guides student learning in your classroom. As students arrive at answers, do not let the process end there. Instead, have students return to the beginning of the process by generating deeper questions and engaging in the research cycle once again.


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    • Andrew Minigan said:

      We at the Right Question believe that all individuals should have the opportunity to learn how to ask better questions, and the strategy can certainly be applied in a home-based education setting. With that said, if a learner is to experience the strategy alone they may not learn to build off other’s questions, develop their listening skills, or their ability to collaborate. No matter whether you are experiencing the QFT as a group or on your own, it helps build the foundational skill of question formulation, critical thinking skills, and helps students to unleash their own curiosity. Tons of free resources on the QFT at

  1. Olivia Yeo said:

    I think QFT is a great portal of learning for everyone especially the students. It’s not just to enhance one’s knowledge but also a big opportunity to widen ideas through integrating digital media, even apps and other products of technology. The same with the functions of mx player, it’s making use of technology to educate and discover.

  2. iOS Guide said:

    Learning how to convey your message is really important. Discussing is one thing, but when you want to take control of the discussion the ability to ask questions really add more power in your opinion.

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