This application is intended to help those who are working together in a group, community or network. It is aimed mainly at tertiary level students but can be used by anyone who finds it appropriate. It contains sets of open questions to help you to learn through inquiry. The Critical talk questions help to develop critical thinking. The Creative talk questions help to extend creative thinking. The Community talk questions are the most important as they help to create a climate which allows the other kinds of talk to flourish.
Once you have launched the application, decide which area of dialogue you want to focus on and click on it. Choose one of the options which appear and click on that to see the questions you can ask to develop your thinking in that direction. Use as many or as few questions as you need to help your dialogue to flow and adapt them if you need to to suit your own situation.
This app uses HTML5 canvas and works in most up to date browsers except IE (best in Chrome).
What facts/information do we have? What research approaches are we familiar with? What are we good at?
What is the focus of our inquiry? What is its scope? What will our output be? What is our timeline?
Theory? Empirical evidence? Data? Where will we find it? Library? Online? Consultation/interviews? How will we synthesise it?
How will we communicate with each other? Face-to-face? Online? Speech? Writing? How often? Where? Does the project process need documenting? How? What milestones can we set?
What skills do we have? How can we make best use of them?
What technologies do we all have access to? Are we all comfortable using them? How can we help those who are not?
Academic? Technical? Where to find it? Online? Library? Workshops?
Academic paper? Presentation? Blog? Wiki? Video? How?
What patterns, trends or features are coming out in the conversation, argument, or project?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this perspective, theory or solution?
Are we ready to make some definite decisions about whether this idea is a good one? If not, what else do we need to consider?
What’s good about the things we have decided to keep in so far?
If we ‘test drive’ this, does it work?
Does this perspective, theory or solution do (or look likely to do) everything it is supposed to?
What could be some of the problems we might have to think about if we go down this path?
Does this idea, or some part of it, need to be taken out because it is just not useful for this particular project?
Some ideas or parts of them may have to go, but what is definitely staying? Why?
Why is this outcome better or worse than another one?
Would it be helpful to do a ‘stock take’ of where we are now?
What point is the author trying to make? Does it make sense? Can it be written down in one sentence? Can it be mapped?
What is the significance of this argument in terms of the topic? Is it relevant?
Is this an accurate interpretation? Is it validated by any other sources?
Is the interpretation realistic? Does it come from a different discipline, culture or perspective? What does that add?
Is the reasoning based on logic or research? Or is it emotive? What evidence is provided? Can it be checked?
Are there any errors in the logic or justification of arguments? What are they?
Are there any ambiguous expressions? What do they mean? Can they be taken in more than one way?
Are there any vague expressions? What do they mean? What would be needed to make them more precise?
What criteria for reasoning are we working with? Truth? Consistency? Reliability? Precision? Relevance?
Has anything been taken for granted? Could this cause misunderstanding or disagreement?
Are there any inconsistencies in the argument? Are there any faulty assumptions or inferences? Are there any fallacies?
Are the inquiry procedures appropriate to the question?
Is the author an individual or an organisation? What else has (s)he written?
Do the graphics serve a purpose or are they primarily decorative? Are the icons meaningful? Are there any advertisements on the page? Are they appropriate?
A citation should include: Author, Date of publication, Title, Edition or revision, Publisher/url, Title of the publication or website. How many of these are there?
Does the source have a list of references? Is there any bias, e.g. is the author putting forward only one point of view or is the source sponsored by a company? Is it primary or secondary research?
When was it produced, updated or revised? If links are provided, do they work and are they current?
Is it general or very specific? Does this match our research purpose? Is it intended for an academic audience or a general one? If so is it too technical, or too basic?
What is the author’s point of view in relation to the topic? For it, against it, or neutral toward it? Is there evidence of the author’s personal, political or cultural bias in the text?
Where does the article/text ‘fit’ in the context of the broad issue? Is it dated or current? Does it present a new perspective or possible solutions? Do later articles contradict its findings?
What are the main claims or arguments in the text? What is the author’s main point?
How does the author reach these conclusions? What are the steps in the author’s reasoning or logic? Is this logic sound?
What evidence does the author present to support the argument(s)? Does the author offer enough evidence? Is this evidence convincing? Is there any evidence that would challenge the author’s claims?
Does the author rely on hidden assumptions? If so, are these assumptions correct?
Are there any alternative arguments that the author has not considered?
Do we see ethics as something which develops moral virtues in ourselves and in our communities?
Do we take a pragmatic approach? Of any two actions, the most ethical one will produce the greatest balance of benefit over suffering. How does this overlap with common good?
Do we see ethics in terms of informed consent? An action or policy is morally right only if those persons affected by the decision are fully informed and treated only as they have freely and knowingly consented to be treated.
Do we see fairness as the most important criterion? Do we agree that we should treat people the same unless there are morally relevant differences between them?
How do we interpret “the common good”? Is it "the greatest possible good for the greatest possible number of individuals”. Does that include animals? The planet? Is it short-term or long-term? How does this overlap with utilitarianism?
Creative, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems BUT tends to ignore incidentals. May be too preoccupied to communicate effectively.
Mature, confident, a good chairperson. Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well BUT may be seen as manipulative. Tends to off-load personal work.
Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options. Judges accurately BUT may lack drive and ability to inspire others.
Disciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient. Turns ideas into practical actions BUT may be somewhat inflexible. Slow to respond to new possibilities.
Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors and omissions. Delivers on time BUT inclined to worry unduly. Reluctant to delegate.
Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles BUT can be provocative and offend people.
Co-operative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts friction BUT may be indecisive in crunch situations.
Single-minded, self-starting, dedicated. Provides knowledge and skills in rare supply BUT contributes only on a narrow front. Tends to dwell on technicalities.
Most people can describe themselves in terms of several of these roles. More information at http://www.belbin.com/belbin-team-roles.htm
Extrovert, enthusiastic,communicative. Explores opportunities. Develops contacts BUT can be Over-optimistic and lose interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.
What ideas can we combine? What would happen if we brought together two or more ideas, frames of reference or disciplines? Are there any synergies? Can we connect anything else?
What would happen if we combined two or more techniques, processes or goals? Are there any synergies? Can we connect anything else?
What other concepts or theories could we use? As well or instead?
How could we put an idea or process to a different use? Would we re-use it as is or would it need to be modified?
What ideas or processes could we borrow from a different domain or discipline? How would we use them?
Are there any similarities between things that are different? How do these elements compare with those from different domains, disciplines?
What would happen if we rearranged the component parts into a different pattern or sequence?
What would happen if we rearranged our priorities in order of difficulty? Or time required? Or importance? (Importance for what?)
What would happen if each of us tried to see things through another participant’s eyes? How would each of us feel if we were in his/her shoes?
How are our different disciplines affecting our interpretation of meanings? What are our frames of reference? What do we understand the key terms to mean?
How are our different cultures/languages affecting our interpretation of meanings? What are our norms, precedents, traditions, ways of doing things?
How similar are our worldviews, ideals, purposes, goals, etc?
How do our different personal perspectives affect our interpretation of meanings? Areas of concern, frames of reference, points of view?
What are our assumptions, theories, concepts?
On what basis will we agree that a criterion has been satisfied?
Definitions? Facts? Research methods?
Which are the most appropriate grounds for comparing theories, solutions, approaches, etc? Should we be looking at characteristics? Functions? Or what?
What would happen if we changed a meaning? Used a different word that seems to mean the same thing? Used the same word defined according to a different discipline or frame of reference?
What would happen if we changed our normal procedures? Or temporarily set aside our assumptions or social conventions?
What would it mean if an idea or experience happening at a different time, or in a different historical, social, or geographical setting?
How could we relocate an idea or experience or idea to a different discipline or situation?
Can the logic be seen a different way? How can we do things differently? What happens if we reverse cause and effect?
What is relevant for our purpose? Do we have more than one purpose? How does that affect what we choose to eliminate?
What is essential? How is this essence different from different perspectives?
What information do we have? Are there any gaps in our knowledge? Can we fill them? If not, how do we take account of them?
How do we feel about it? What’s my gut reaction? How are other people feeling about it? What are the intuitive responses of people who do not fully know our reasoning?
What is the optimistic view? What are the benefits of the decision and the value in it? What opportunities could arise from it?
What could we do? If we stop worrying about the difficulties and just throw some ideas around can we find a creative solution?
How can we change our focus if ideas are running dry, or a contingency plan is needed?
What is the pessimistic view? How can we see it cautiously and defensively? Why might these ideas and approaches not work?
Are we looking for a conclusion based on logic or a synthesis of ideas?
Do we want everyone to agree? How much compromise is acceptable?
Are we looking for a judgement? Is a majority vote acceptable?
Are we looking for a single outcome? Or will it depend on context?
Is there only one solution to this problem or are there equally alternatives? Would one be better than another in a particular set of circumstances? What would it be?
Is there only one way of classifying these theories/arguments etc? What other criteria might be used?
What are our criteria for judging the value of the alternatives?
What kind of contradictions are we looking for? Inconsistency of argument? Of research results? Of interpretation of findings? Are there any paradoxes?
What sort of connection are we looking for? A statistical correlation? How might that be interpreted? A logical connection? A causal relationship? A synergy?
How are my/our definitions affected by their contextual circumstances?
How are the meanings of our words affected by different emphases?
How are the meanings of our words affected by shifts in the speaker's/writer's intention?
Are there any discrepancies between this situation and a past one which seems similar?
Are there any differences between this situation and an apparently similar one which had different consequences?