What Is The Question Formulation Technique?

by TeachThought Staff


Put simply, the Question Formation Technique (QFT) is a process for brainstorming questions.

According to the creating organization, the QFT “helps all people create, work with, and use their own questions — building skills for lifelong learning, self-advocacy, and democratic action.” As a classroom tool for teaching and learning, the QFT is useful to promote inquiry, discussion, debate, project-based learning, and more.

The Parts Of The QFT

There are three primary parts of the QFT: the Rules, the QFocus, and the Sequence

The Question Formation Technique Rules

These will be clarified more below in the ‘Sequence.’ But here are the four rules of the QFT:

1. Ask as many questions as you can.

2. Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer the questions.

3. Write down every question exactly as it is stated. (This can be done by the teacher or a student, though I’ve had the most success letting students do it while I facilitated the session.)

4. Statements or ‘sentence fragments’ and other cognitive snippets are fine–just change any of these into questions at the end.

What Is The QFocus?

According to the Right Question Institute, the ‘QFocus’ is “a stimulus for jumpstarting questions. It is the focus of question formulation. The QFocus may be a statement, phrase, image, video, aural aid, math problem, equation, or anything else that gets the questions flowing. It may not be a question, and it should be related to the content or intended learning outcomes. A good QFocus should be simple and clear, and it should encourage divergent thinking.”

The QFT Sequence

This doesn’t always have to look exactly the same every time in every classroom, but generally the sequence is reviewing the rules, clarifying the process, revealing the QFocus, and hosting the QFT itself.

The QFT process itself is Produce, Improve, Prioritize, Plan, and Reflect.


Summary: Brainstorm new questions–as many as possible without judgment–writing down everything that’s said exactly as it’s said, then changing any statements that were made into questions.

Time: ~5 mins


Summary: Categorize and label questions as Open or Closed, turn one Open question into a Closed question and vice-versa, then describe the advantages & disadvantages of both types of questions and their role in the inquiry process, then improve them (as necessary for clarity, precision, relevance, depth, etc.)

Time: ~5 to 10 mins


Summary: Select the ‘best’ three questions for your application

Time: ~5 mins (depending on experience level of teacher/class, how many statements need to be turned into questions, etc.)


Summary: Create a plan to use the questions for whatever inquiry/learning process relevant to your classroom application

Time: ~2 to 5 mins (depending on the nature of the plan/planning)


Reflect on the QFT process, what you’ve learned, how your perspective has changed, etc.

Time: ~5 mins

(See the video below.)

Clarifying Questions To Ask Students Before The QFT Process

Questions clarifying questions to ask before hosting a QFT: What is the purpose of the QFT in general? What is the purpose of our specific QFT today? Have I done this–or anything like it-in the past? How did it go? What might be difficult following the rules for producing questions? Which rule might be most difficult to follow? What is our question focus? What do I know/not know/think I might know about it?

The video below is a nice short summary of QFT by InquirED.

*previously published at TeachThought.com


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