Historical inquiries are driven by strong compelling questions to guide students in their work. Below are a variety of compelling questions, along with examples.

Types of Compelling Questions 
with examples from a women’s suffrage inquiry

Broad-Brush Appraise big issues Does protest lead to change?
Case-Study Look deeply into ideas/actions How did women change the Constitution?
Personalized Connect with the real world How can I make change?
Analytic Examine an idea, event Did getting the vote mean women were now equal?
Comparative Analyze multiple issues How did the 19th-century woman’s suffrage movement compare to the 20th-century movement?
Evaluative Call for a judgment on an issue Has suffrage been good for women?
Problem-Based Propose potential solutions What should be done about…
Word Play Juxtapose different meanings of ideas How do you walk the walk and talk the talk?
Mystery Track elements of an unanswered ?? What’s the real story behind…

More Compelling Questions (from: http://www.c3teachers.org/inquiries/):

Was American expansion abroad justified?
Was the American Revolution avoidable?
Can disease change the world?
What did it take for women to be considered ‘equal’ to men in New York?
What made nonviolent protest effective during the Civil Rights Movement?
Why does the past matter today?
Did the Constitution establish a just government?
Why do countries declare independence?
Was the French Revolution successful?
Can words lead to war?
Can we get everything we need and want?
Does it matter who freed the slaves?
Are students protected by the First Amendment?
Is free trade worth the price?
Is greed good?
Is compromise always fair?
Did the American dream come true for immigrants who came to New York?
Is anything new about today’s immigration policy debate?
Should freedom be sacrificed in the name of national security?
How should the President foster economic opportunity?
What’s the real story behind the purchase of Manhattan?
Was the New Deal a good deal?
Did the French lose out in North America?
Is protest patriotic?
Why did the Pilgrim-Wampanoag friendship go so wrong?
How did sugar feed slavery?
Were the suburbs good for America?
Can peace lead to war?
Should Puerto Rico be a state?
Was it destiny to move west?
What does it mean to be equal?
Why was the U.S. on the winning side of World War II?
How do we shape our environment?
Does development mean progress?

Whose story is it?
What can we learn from the past?
How am I connected to those in the past?