Using Writing as Thinking

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Using Writing as Thinking

QHQ: Question - Hypothesis -Question

Good (critical) thinking and good (clear) writing involves

  • a process of making finer and finer distinctions
  • a process of posing and answering more refined questions
  • a process of questioning and hypothesizing


1. Question
Ask students to generate-write down--a question they have about a text, a lecture or lab, a class discussion, an experiment-any kind of problematic situation.
2. Hypothesize
Ask them to continue writing (for x number of minutes/x amount of space) working to answer the question they have posed. The idea is to try out as many answers as possible and to come to some sense of a best possible answer, explaining why this hypothesis makes sense.
3. Question
Ask students to read through what they have written and then write down a new question that emerges out of what they have already written.

Repeat laps of QHQ as often as possible/appropriate.


  • Can use with a group, one writer doing the QH parts and then passing on to another writer to write the last Q. Can continue circulating around group.
  • Can make a regular part of every class session.
  • Can take as little as 2-5 minutes.
  • Can be used to record attendance.
  • Can be used for instructor response to whole class orally.
  • Can be done all quarter and entries kept as a record of learning.
  • Can be tied to a formal writing assignment/project, as a way of practicing pieces of thinking along the way to writing a formal piece.
  • Can be used without any formal writing assignment-as a way of assisting students to THINK about the ideas of a course and of giving instructors information on their teaching

    Carmen Werder, Western Washington University