Kicking off the Inquiry (QFT + CPS = crazy delicious)

This post is the final assignment for my spring class (Current Trends in Curriculum and Instruction: Inquiry and Problem Solving) through UW Oshkosh’s Teaching 2.0 program. We have been required to do 3 lesson trials where we implement a new strategy in the clasroom and track the results. In this trial, I combined the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) and Creative Problem Solving (CPS). The resulting mashup was nothing short of crazy delicious.

First, I kicked off the inquiry with a slideshow of images designed to inspire questions and curiosity:

The slideshow culminated with the Question Focus, “Clean Water.”

Students worked through the QFT process in small groups and then we compiled their priority questions into a master class list. Next, we worked through that list to select 2 driving questions for our new project:

How does dirty water affect the world?


What defines clean water?

This is where the QFT ended and the CPS began. I asked the students to begin brainstorming topics, questions, phrases, concepts, etc. related to our first driving question. We then used the SCAMPER protocol (CPS) to build their lists. This process was captured in web format on whiteboards:

While I wish we’d had more time for this step (we only had about 7 minutes), the brainstorming was mostly successful.

Finally, we compiled their brainstorming into a master class list and looked for “Hits and Hot Spots” (another CPS protocol). In this way, we were able to settle on key areas of inquiry for this project. The next step will be for each of my students to select their own guiding question that falls under one or both of our class driving questions. Finally, I will group them into small groups of 2-4 with shared or similar inquiries. This will provide social support as they work through this project.

Overall, QFT and CPS were a useful pairing that helped to get this inquiry project off and running with a bang! The questions were more varied and deep than my students sometimes generate and their topic brainstorming gave a solid structure for our project.



(2005). Chronicles of Narnia (Lazy Sunday) [Television series episode]. In Saturday Night Live. New York: NBC.

Rothstein, D., & Santana, L. (2011).Make just one change: teach students to ask their own questions. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press.

Treffinger, D. J., Isaksen, S. G., & Dorval, K. B. (2006). Creative problem solving: an introduction (4th ed.). Waco, Tex.: Prufrock Press.