Why are some research questions considered better than others? What are the cultural, personal, and political biases that influence what questions are posed and how they are posed?

(The BioQUEST Library IV: A Note to the Student 1996)

Posing specific questions

Brainstorming can lead to a long list of questions, not all of which you or your group (or your teacher) may choose to pursue. Spend time as a group identifying key issues of interest. For our example, there are several types of questions on this list that lead to different types of learning. Here are some examples.

Examples of Learning Questions

Further brainstorming

"Why is Ms. Cardinale-Jones concerned for the safety of her children?" or "What affects the number of insects at any given time of year?" or "What sorts of jobs deal with these issues?"

Searching out basic facts.

"What diseases do the insects carry?" or "What is the biology of ticks?" These questions in and of themselves do not pose a scientific research problem, but learning more about these may lead to other questions that are scientific.

Finding information, analyzing it and finding patterns.

"What is the usual pattern of insects in Louisiana?" and "Is it different this year?" These questions might lead you to the Internet or elsewhere to get insect sampling data for analysis.

Decision making.

"What advice should Moses give her?" You will need to understand the issues, and evaluate the consequences of the options before you can answer this question.

 Scientific investigations

"What affects the number of insects at any given time of year?" could be refined to focus on climatic variables. These could then be investigated by modeling (with Biota or EDM), by actually collecting weather and insect population data, by using data sets collected by others, or by finding published information on the topic.

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