What Distinguishes Essential Questions from Non-essential Ones?

What Distinguishes Essential Questions from Non-essential Ones?

According to McTighe and Wiggins (2013), there are seven defining characteristics of essential questions. A good essential question meets all of these characteristics:

  1. open-ended; not having a single, final, and/or correct answer
  2. thought-provoking and engaging intellectually; has the ability to spark discussion and debate
  3. addresses higher-order thinking (from Bloom’s taxonomy: analysis, inference, and guides learners towards evaluation, prediction)
  4. Points toward important, transferable ideas within and across disciplines
  5. Sparks further inquiry and raises additional questions
  6. Requires evidence for support and justification
  7. Provides opportunities to be revisited

Essential questions are not answerable in a single lesson or a single sentence. These types of questions allow learners to dive deeply into a subject (McTighe & Wiggins, 2013).

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