Writing ResourcesAsking Questions About a Subject
Asking questions is a form of prewriting that allows you to:
- ask questions to develop a perspective on a subject that you think you want to write about.
- narrow a subject that you already have chosen.
- determine whether it's feasible to pursue your chosen subject, especially if you're doing a research paper.
Ask Questions to Develop a Perspective on a Subject
Ask the journalist's "who," "what," "when," "where," "why" and "how" in order to:
- get a sense of the subject's scope
- determine how you may want to approach the subject ( the angle that makes sense for you to take when thinking about the subject)
Ask Questions to Narrow a Subject
Ask questions about your subject and use the answer to activate another question until you come to a question that is a good stopping place (a focused question that you know you can research, or a focused question that you can answer on your own with examples and details).
|Education in what country?||the U.S.|
|What level of U.S. education?||education for children|
|What level of childhood education?||Head Start|
|What do I want to know about it?||special programs|
|Any particular programs?||reading readiness|
|How effective are Head Start|
|or reading readiness programs?|
Education for whom?
What type of college student?
adult, returning student
What problems do adult returning students face?
As you develop a "chain," using each answer to generate another question, your subject both narrows in scope and becomes more complex, which is more appropriate for a college-level essay which requires some depth of thought.
Once you have a few subjects that you think might be appropriate for further development into essays or research papers, ask questions to determine each subject's feasibility:
- What exactly do I know about the subject?
- Where did I get my knowledge (first-hand experience, books, television, newspapers, discussions with others, etc.)?
- Will my knowledge yield sufficient examples and details for me to write in some depth about this subject, or will I have to do some additional research? That is, if I want to write about this subject, what else do I need to know?
- Where can I find additional information if I need more? Books? Magazines? Journals? Interviews with co-workers or family members? Personal observations?
- Are these information sources readily available to me?