Inquiry Questions

Educators may begin by asking what questions they currently ask their students. Do their questions provoke student thinking? How are their questions connected to the expected learning in the Health and Physical Education curriculum?

There are many different types of questions that can be used in Health and Physical Education to use an inquiry stance with instructional practices. These include but aren’t limited to the examples in Figure 9.

Figure 9: Types of Questions

Type of Question



Overarching questions

This is a broad question based on the big ideas of the curriculum and may be relevant across multiple units or even multiple disciplines.

These may be used to guide a unit.

  • How do our various body systems interact?
  • How does food turn into energy?
  • What kind of practice improves performance?
  • Why do games have rules?

Topical question

This type of question is specific to the understandings of a particular unit or topic.

Educators may use several topical questions in several lessons to help answer one overarching question.

  • How do we hit with the greatest power without losing control?
  • Why can’t two runners occupy the same base at the same time in baseball?

Simple skill- related question

This type of question elicits purposeful feedback or helps to develop a skill.

  • How was your racquet angled when you contacted the birdie?
  • What resources can you use to find information about mental health supports in your community?

Analytical question

This type of question develops decision-making and problem-solving skills with respect to game or activity strategy or a personal health choice by asking how or why.

  • How can you position yourself in relation to your opponent to prevent a goal from being scored?
  • How would you go about solving a problem in a relationship?
  • What steps do you need to take?
  • What biomechanical principles would you focus on to increase the distance you throw the ball?

Review question

This type of question develops thinking skills related to reflecting on an activity.

It also develops thinking skills related to the development of a skill and ways to improve the activity or approach.

  • How can we change the game so everyone is included?
  • How does changing the boundaries change the strategies you use to defend the goal?
  • How do your choices about substance use help you to live safely?


Effective Inquiry Questions

Effective inquiry questions 1:

  • are open-ended (do not have a single, final, and correct answer);
  • are thought-provoking and intellectually engaging (often sparking discussion and debate);
  • call for higher order thinking (such as analysis, synthesis, inference, prediction; cannot be effectively answered by recall alone);
  • point toward important, transferrable ideas;
  • raise additional questions and spark further inquiry;
  • require support and justification, not just the answer; and
  • recur over time—that is, these are questions that can and should be revisited again and again.

Developing Effective Inquiry Questions

When creating effective questions to use for inquiry, educators must first determine the criteria for an effective question. Then they must keep those criteria in mind while developing questions and use them as a reference afterwards to review the quality of the question created.

The following are three steps for educators to consider for developing effective inquiry questions:

  1. Use curriculum to identify and develop big ideas. These ideas should be broad, timeless, and transferable. Educators should look at the verbs and nouns from the curriculum and identify what students will need to know and be able to do within both the Healthy Living strand and Living Skills expectations. For example, for “A2. requires students to demonstrate an understanding of the importance of being physically active, and apply physical fitness concepts and practices that contribute to healthy, active living”, the big idea is “Being physically fit has an impact on one’s health and well-being”.
  2. Brainstorm questions for the strand/unit. Related to the curriculum expectations, educators can ask what is it that students would like to know. For example: How is your physical fitness level related to your overall health and well-being? What do I need to do to be physically fit? What must I do to monitor and adjust my fitness level?
  3. Question review. Educators can compare questions with the criteria for an effective question and tweak as needed. For example, a question such as “How is your physical fitness level related to your overall health and well-being?” calls for higher-order thinking and is open-ended, but an educator might ask themselves whether the question is thought-provoking and targeted enough.

1 McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2013). Essential questions opening doors to student understanding. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.