Discussion questions

ENG125: Introduction to Literature

How to Ask an Open-Ended Question

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Discussion questions 1

There are two ways of asking questions: close-ended and open-ended.

Close-ended questions

  • Can be answered with either a single word or a short phrase such as “yes” or “no.
  • Are easy to answer and provide no details or analysis.
  • Do not encourage in-depth or long-range thinking.

Open-ended questions

  • Are likely to receive an in-depth, detailed answer.
  • Ask the respondent to think and reflect on what he or she has read.
  • Encourage critical thinking that leads the respondent to think beyond the reading assignment.
  • Usually begin with “how,” “why,” or “what.”


Do you get along well with your supervisor?How do you view your relationship with your supervisor?
Who will you vote for in this election?What do you think about the two candidates in this election?
Did you like that story we read for this week?What did you think of the story we read for this week?
Did the protagonist act unwisely in the story?Why did the protagonist make the choices she did?
Did you understand Macbeth?What were the consequences of Macbeth’s actions?

General Open-Ended Question Template

  • What do you think about ?
  • In what way does the story/poem ?
  • How would you interpret the character’s ______?
  • How did the ending ?
  • What was the problem ?
  • Why did the story/poem ?
  • Why did the character react ?
  • What did it mean when ?
  • How does the symbolism ?
  • What kind of conflict ?

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