The Right Question Institute works to build a vibrant democracy where all people — even those furthest from power — can make their voices heard, participate in decisions, and advocate for themselves, their families, and their communities.

RQI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is supported by people like you. Join our free online community of more than 58,000 people — from over 150 countries — to access hundreds of free resources, educational tools, and videos.

Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

Welcome to the home of the Question Formulation Technique! Created by the Right Question Institute, the QFT is a simple yet powerful strategy to teach students how to formulate their own questions.

Building Agency and Power Through Questions

Asking questions enhances people’s ability to advocate for themselves, navigate complex systems, and make their voices heard in democracy.

An often overlooked problem

Every year, people have millions of encounters with complex systems where life-altering decisions are made. These could be systems related to health care, public schools, courts, social security, unemployment benefits, or other things. Many people feel they don’t have a voice in these decisions. The encounters can feel overwhelming, confusing, and intimidating.

At the same time, frontline workers in these systems — teachers, service providers, caseworkers, healthcare professionals — often feel overworked, underresourced, and frustrated by this dynamic.

It’s a problem that cuts across party lines and geographic regions, affecting people in rural, urban, and suburban areas alike. People with lower incomes and without powerful connections may feel these dynamics more acutely.

Practical pathways to participation and self-advocacy

At RQI, we build people’s ability to ask better questions and participate in decisions that affect them.

The skill of asking questions can be transformative — a pathway that leads to feeling a new sense of agency and power. RQI’s simple method for teaching people to ask their own questions sharpens their ability to:

Engage: To feel a new sense of urgency to get involved in issues that affect them, their families, and their communities.

Learn: To put what they want to know front-and-center, to let their natural curiosity shine, to think critically about information, media, and complex situations.

Navigate: To interact more effectively with complex systems and partner with the dedicated professionals who work in those systems.

Advocate: To make their voices heard and become more active participants in democracy.

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Where we work

RQI is different. We take a holistic approach to systems change. We believe that when you invest in the skills and capacity of others, you equip them with useful tools for enacting meaningful change. You boost self-advocacy skills and increase people’s sense of agency and power — instead of further entrenching a sense of dependency. We collaborate with other organizations in many fields to support a subtle shift, where skill-building becomes part of the daily routine. We providing light-touch, practical resources that complement and strengthen the ongoing efforts of frontline workers. Find more information about our work in:


Legal settings

Voter engagement

Health care

School-family partnerships

Social services

RQI in the Press

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Share the Strategy and Source RQI

Our materials are available under a Creative Commons Sharealike license. To comply with this license, you must include the following language on all materials you use, share, adapt, or create: “Source: The Right Question Institute (RQI). The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) was created by RQI. Visit for more information and free resources.”

As long as you include this source language, you are welcome to use, adapt, and share our strategies and materials for noncommercial use. You may also create new materials that reference the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) and/or other Right Question Institute strategies as long as you include the source language above. If you are interested in sharing RQI’s resources for commercial purposes you must contact us by selecting the “Permission for Use” option on the contact form.

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