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Inquiry Question

Thesis and Argument: Answers the inquiry question with a thesis statement that is historically defensible and supported by available evidence
Developing an Argument
When considering the wording of your question, it is important to know what conceptual understanding you want your students to use in formulating the answer.
Changing the wording of the question, changes the historical thinking and analysis required in the response. By helping students identify the historical thinking concept implied in the question, they will be better able to articulate criteria for selecting evidence and organizing their argument.
An inquiry question offers students an opportunity to develop their own response to a period based on relevant evidence. The student’s written response exemplifies their understanding of a historical period/event/subject based on available evidence.

 An inquiry question offers students an opportunity to develop their own response to a period based on relevant evidence. The student’s written response exemplifies their understanding of a historical period/event/subject based on available evidence.

 

Criteria for Developing Inquiry Questions:

  • Provide a standards-based focus and purpose for student learning
  • Deepen content knowledge
  • Foster critical thinking about significant issues in history
  • Require students to evaluate and synthesize historical evidence to form an explanation or argument
  • Allow flexibility in response --  more than one “right” answer
  • May be provocative, have an emotive force, and/or connect to students’ lives
  • Should be stated simply and clearly

Distinguishing between Explanation and Argument

Historical writing requires a historical interpretation presented through a claim-based thesis that is supported by evidence and analysis.  

 

Explanation -- Requires a synthesis of evidence to form a historical conclusion.

Question: What caused World War I?

Response:  Intense nationalism, militarism, and imperialism, along with the formation of alliances led European countries to battle in World War I.

 

Argument -- Requires taking a stand or making a judgment and defending that position with evidence and analysis.

Question: What was the most significant cause of World War I?

Response: European countries’ fervent nationalism was the most significant cause of World War I.

 

Reminder: Assigning an argument-based question is not necessarily better than one that asks for an explanation.