Thesis and Argument: Answers the inquiry question with a thesis statement that is historically defensible and supported by 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.