Through the Right Question Institute’s work, millions of students around the world are developing critical thinking skills and getting excited about learning. Adults are better able to advocate for themselves and have a say in decisions that affect them. And more people are able to ask better questions and participate in key decisions — leading to a more robust and just democratic society.
The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) creates an inclusive, equitable environment where every student participates and gets a chance to shine.
Joy in teaching
When teachers see their students are energized, eager to learn, and full of curiosity, it makes a difficult job a little bit easier and more joyful.
A culture of inquiry
Schools and classrooms that nurture student questioning through the QFT become lively places full of learning and exploration.
Confidence and engagement
Students report feeling more confident when they use the QFT. Student questioning leads to a greater sense of ownership of their learning.
More questions, more curiosity
There’s a two-way street between questions and curiosity. Curious students ask more questions, and students who ask more questions become more curious.
Rigorous thinking, more learning
Students who formulate questions together are collaborating, communicating, thinking critically, solving problems, grasping academic content, and learning how to learn.
Our professional learning experiences — including online courses and workshops — are designed to give educators tools they can use immediately.
The Question Formulation Technique has spread to more than one million classrooms around the world — to all 50 states and over 150 countries. More than 57,000 people have joined our online community. Here are some stories of the impact it’s having:
Stronger school-family partnerships
Through the Right Question School-Family Partnership Strategy, parents are better able to support, monitor, and advocate for their children, and they can partner more effectively with their children’s schools.
Better patient experiences
The Right Question Effective Patient Strategy improves communication and partnerships between patients and providers, and it leads to greater patient activation and satisfaction in the health care experience.
Non-voters becoming voters
With the Right Question Voter Engagement Initiative, people draw connections between the services they receive and decisions made at higher levels of our democracy. Those who have never voted name for themselves the value of voting, leading to increased motivation to vote.
Increased self-efficacy and agency
Social-services clients learn a strategy to move from feeling helpless to having a sense of self-efficacy, from dependency to agency. They enhance their ability to solve problems and take action on their own behalf.
Lawyers and clients as change agents
Legal services clients learn a strategy to navigate systems, advocate for themselves, and have a say in decisions. They become agents for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Our vision of Microdemocracy
Ordinary encounters with public agencies become opportunities for people to “act democratically” and participate in decisions that affect them. Democratic action at this micro level can lead people to find their voice and take action through traditional political activities, such as voting and organizing.
RQI contributes to research and public discussion in areas such as student curiosity, inquiry, information literacy, curriculum standards, poverty and education, parent engagement, voter and patient activation, and more.
Staff have published papers in a range of journals and publications, including Education Week, Educational Leadership, Teaching Channel, Social Education, and PBS Teachers’ Lounge.
The book Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions (2011), by RQI co-directors Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, has become a classroom classic. It’s been translated into five languages and is one of Harvard Education Press’ top sellers of all time. It’s also been a top-selling pedagogical book in Japan.
Rothstein and Santana’s 2017 book, Partnering with Parents to Ask the Right Questions, co-written with Agnes Bain, unveiled one of the 10 topics of 2017 that “most changed the way we think about some aspect of teaching, learning, and leading,” according to ASCD Express.
RQI’s work has been featured in media outlets such as National Public Radio, The Boston Globe, the CBS Radio Network, KQED, and Fast Company.
The Right Question Institute’s work is made possible by the support of donors and funders who recognize the importance of investing in the ability of all people to learn to ask better questions and participate in decisions.
Our work covers many areas, from education to advocacy, health care, democratic action, and more. We are grateful to many funders and donors who have provided multi-year support in the past, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Jane’s Trust, the Germanacos Foundation, the Wallace Funds, the Barr Foundation, and the Packard Foundation. Current funding includes long-standing funding from the National Science Foundation and the Whitman Institute and grant funding from the Library of Congress.
We are deeply grateful to the board of directors of the Right Question Institute. All members of our board donate and support the work based on their own capacity. We are grateful to them and to our many individual donors for their unwavering loyalty and commitment to democratizing access to transformative skills that can help create a stronger democracy and more just society for all.
The hundreds of free resources you will find on our network will help you easily move into action to learn a strategy one day and facilitate the very next.
You’ll also get access to hundreds of free resources that will help you easily move into action to learn a strategy one day and facilitate the very next.