Inquiry questions

What is the purpose of inquiry questions? What is important to know about developing inquiry questions in an IDU?

Purpose of a unit's inquiry questions

The purpose of inquiry questions in all MYP units is to guide a scaffolded set of inquiries that can support students in developing their understanding the unit’s statement of inquiry.

"Teachers of the disciplines participating in an interdisciplinary unit can collaboratively develop a set of shared, transferable, factual, conceptual and debatable questions that can be explored from the unique perspective of each discipline, and/or from a synthesized interdisciplinary perspective.

Questions can be developed that help students inquire into each of the elements expressed in the statement [of inquiry]: the concepts, the relationship between the concepts, the context and/or the relationship between the conceptual understanding and the global context exploration." - Interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the MYP

Details to remember

  • The inquiry questions in an interdisciplinary unit should:

    • be drawn from and inspired by the statement of inquiry

    • reference at least one of the unit’s concepts and/or the global context exploration

    • guide inquiries into the unit’s concepts, the relationships between the concepts and the global context exploration

    • be explorable by both/all participating subjects (questions that are only explorable by one of participating subjects should be identified in the applicable description of the disciplinary 'learning experiences')

    • be used as prompts for inquiry-based learning experiences during the learning processes

  • Teachers need to develop a minimum of one question in each question type (factual, conceptual, debatable).

    • Factual inquiry questions encourage recall and comprehension and lead to answers that are supported by evidence. These questions can be used to explore the meaning of the concepts, context and other terminology used in the statement of inquiry. Most often, factual questions begin with 'What…'.

    • Conceptual inquiry questions encourage analysis and application, and do not lead students to a particular viewpoint or answer. These questions can prompt deeper inquiry into the key and related concepts, the relationships that exist between the concepts, and between the concepts and the contextual exploration. Often, conceptual questions begin with 'How...' or 'Why…'.

    • Debatable inquiry questions encourage synthesis and evaluation. They require students to take a position and/or engage in discussion or debate involving at least one of the concepts included in the statement of inquiry and possibly the global context exploration. It is important that debatable questions are complex and have more than one plausible answer. These questions might begin with question starters such as 'Could...', 'Should…' or 'To what extent…'.

  • In the MYP, developing 'lines of inquiry' is optional. If included, a line of inquiry:

    • defines the content-based scope of the associated inquiry question

    • is written as a statement or phrase

  • Questions that reference specific unit content from the participating subjects are also encouraged. Content-based questions should be identified in the description of the applicable disciplinary learning process in terms of when/how the questions are used to drive content-based learning experiences (not in the shared 'Inquiry questions' section of the unit plan).


In this guide, a language and literature and sciences interdisciplinary unit is used to illustrate one example of what each unit plan section could look like using the provided guidance. Below is the inquiry questions section of that unit.

Check the inquiry questions through the descriptors (shown below) from the IB publication Evaluating MYP interdisciplinary unit plans.

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