Metaquestions

What Are Metaquestions?

A ‘meta-question’ can be used as a way of inquiry by framing and encapsulating a course into a single, compelling question. This question is intended to be used throughout a course to allow students to periodically refocus their thoughts to one central theme. The question can be modified or refined during the course as needed, but should still encapsulate the main ideas. It can be set up as a somewhat provocative question to engage students and ongoing discussions. It does not need to have a specific answer, and can be open ended - allowing students to develop their own viewpoints or opinions.

Metaquestions are essential questions that focus not only on what is being asked, but how the questions is being asked and answered. Metaquestions do not have a clear answer, but are used to engage students in deeper thinking and investigation, and can encompass materials and concepts beyond the confines of the course. Metaquestions can help students connect the course materials to relevant challenges or ideas in their lives.

How Are Metaquestions Structured?

A metaquestion can be used as a way of inquiry by framing and encapsulating the course into a single, compelling question.  This question is intended to be used throughout a course to allow students to refocus their thoughts to one central theme. The question can be modified or refined during the course if need be, but should still encapsulate the main idea.

Once a question is created, you can use Backwards Design to structure your course around your metaquestion. The the book Understanding by Design, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe 

What Are Metaquestions Good For?

Metaquestions can be used in many ways to frame inquiry within a course. Metaquestions can, for example:

  • Make learners' assumptions and prior knowledge more visible
  • Help you and your learners' see how their understanding develops throughout the course
  • Give learners ownership over how they seek out understanding to answer the question

Additional Resources for Inquiry

What are Instructors Saying?

Listen to Grant Wiggins discuss how backwards design and essential questions can help you structure lessons for deeper understanding.

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