Leading Questions

When we locate, then read a source, how are we learning from it?

Many students are finding sources difficult to analyze because they are not leading their research with questions. They simply hope the facts “come to them” while browsing over a source. Or they expect text features (such as side-bars, photos, etc) to guide them.

This is just like going to the movies. Students ask many questions before they end up in a seat:

  • What do I feel like seeing?
  • What’s even out in theatres?
  • What are the reviews?
  • Who wants to go with me?
  • When can I go?
  • What do I EAT????
  • Which theatre do I go to?

In connecting this to our HF research, we must ask questions. What are you trying to learn about your topic? How is your topic a turning point? And if you can’t think of any questions – why have you chosen that topic?!

We used this great article from the Iroquois Theatre fire of 1903 today in class. Our leading question was “Why did this little fire kill so many people?”


And this is just one short source. Imagine the number of questions generated from just this story alone! What’s a great, long source going to do to your imagination?

Leading with questions helps us examine, analyze, and find information far more efficiently. Do this with your research going forward.