Asking questions is an important skill that can be improved with practice and by understanding what makes a quality question. Start by reading our Community Guidelines, which explains how open-ended questions facilitate thought-provoking discussions. Next, get familiar with our Curiosity Score to understand how Packback scores questions based on presentation, credibility and effort. After a read-through of the basics, check out our breakdown of a 94-point question to learn the key components of a great question and how to earn a high Curiosity Score!
The initial question needs to spark a reader’s curiosity and make them excited to respond. Questions should be open-ended and start with “why” or “how”. These interrogatives can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” and encourage students to explain their ideas. The question in the example, “Why are so many college students experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety and depression?” encourages respondents to explore several opinions, feelings and ideas.
Adding ideas and well-supported opinions contribute to a conversation by helping readers understand the question. A great way to do this is by providing context with personal experiences. The example question notes how after reading a Time Magazine article, he/she was left wondering “why are students so stressed?” and draws connections to the material by relating his/her own college experience. The description also provides two more related questions in bold toward the end to spark the conversation. The example description earns Curiosity Points in effort because of its lengthy description and formatting.
Another way to add context for readers and encourage a fulfilling discussion is to add images, videos and other supplemental materials. The best images and videos are ones that add to the discussion by providing a new perspective, further explaining a concept or supporting an opinion. With this example, the questioner shares a graph of the top reasons students are stressed and relates it back to the main question. The additional materials raise Curiosity Scores with presentation points.
Citing a credible source provides context to the description and helps respondents continue the discussion with a great response. Additionally, sources strengthen arguments and serve as a fact-checking tool. Some reliable sources include research papers, news articles and textbooks. In this example, the questioner shares an article from Time Magazine along with survey data on the importance of time management for college students. Sharing information from credible sources earns Curiosity Points for credibility.
Before submitting, be sure to reread the question and description to check for proper grammar and clarity. Also, add formatting to emphasize key points and don’t forget the question mark!