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