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What Makes a Good Driving Question?

Effective driving questions share a number of qualities, regardless of the topic. Why are these qualities important to a question’s strength to drive a project?

Find out why by placing your cursor over each puzzle piece in the image.


Good questions often involve an element of mystery. Intriguing questions cause students to wonder, to have a compelling "need to know."


Good questions get under your skin, provoking you to investigate, discover, figure out a response or learn more about a topic.


Good questions can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no," and a Google search won't turn up the solution. Complex questions set the stage for higher-order thinking.

Real World:

Good questions live in the real world, not just in the classroom. For inspiration, look at the questions that captivate journalists, historians, scientists, architects, photographers, engineers, artists, doctors, technologists and others.


Good questions don't have one right answer. Open-ended questions may challenge students to make an argument, defend a position, or weigh the pros and cons of potential solutions.


Good questions set the stage for action. They challenge students to ask, "What can we do about this issue?"


Good questions matter to youth. They connect to their lives, their families and their communities.


Good questions encourage higher-order thinking skills such as making connections and inferences, evaluating, applying existing information to solve new problems, and much more.


Good questions get at core content. They are thought-provoking, and inspire students to reflect on important ideas and information.

Driving QuestionIntriguing Substantial Challenging Relevant Actionable Open-Ended Real-World Complex Provocative

Reflect on This

Take another look at the driving questions you entered in My Notebook for the previous page. Which of the qualities shown here do your questions incorporate? Try revising your questions to incorporate more of these qualities! Consider making your questions more actionable by starting them with “How can we…” or “What can we do about….”

My Notebook

Project-Based Learning

The Notebook is a useful way to jot down notes as you go through the various topics available on the You For Youth website. If you'd like to use the notebook, please sign in if you already have an account or register now to join the Y4Y community!


Project-Based Learning