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Spanish 175 (Magaña): Temas y preguntas / Topics & questions

Spanish in the U.S.

Preguntas W/H / W/H questions

  • Who? Who is involved? Who are the main players? Who are the secondary ones?
  • What? What is the topic? What are the issues? What happened? What is the problem?
  • Where? Where does the action take place? Where’s the location?
  • When? When did it happen? When did it start? When did it stop?
  • Why? Why is this important? Why write about it?
  • How? How did it get to this point? How do we resolve it? How does effect the players?

adapted from KU Writing Center's Prewriting Strategies and Stevey Jones' "Writer's Tools: The 5 Ws & One H (The Journalist Questions)

Subtemas / Subtopics

It's also useful to think about the other questions I might have to address to help me answer the main question. Here are some examples. Notice that I probably came across some of this information while doing my preliminary research. These questions can also help me create a rough outline.

  • What are the effects of parental involvement in children's education?
  • What are factors that affect parental involvement?
    • It may be useful to list the various factors, including language, here.
  • How many parents of schoolchildren mostly speak Spanish?
    • The answer to this may or may not exist because it depends if this data has actually been collected. I might have to consider some other sort of information to provide some insight into the importance or urgency of my question.
  • How do Spanish-speaking parents feel about their role in their children's education?
  • What can schools do to create an environment that encourages involvement of Spanish-speaking parents?
    • What have schools tried? What works? What doesn't work?
    • What factors might limit schools' abilities to meet Spanish-speaking parent needs?
    • What do Spanish-speaking parents think schools should do?

My job is now to find answers to these questions, all of which might require me to do a variety of different searches using different tools. These questions may also help inform my primary research. Maybe I can interview or survey Spanish-speaking parents.

Angostando tu tema en una pregunta / Narrowing your topic into a question

It's very common to select a topic or formulate a question that starts out too broadly. When the scope of your topic is too big, it's hard to dig through the huge volume of information available to find something relevant.  It's also hard to write a paper with any depth.

Most scholarly research examines fairly narrow topics and looks at relationships between concepts. For example, education is a pretty broad topic, but looking at the impact of parental involvement in children's education might be a more manageable topic.

One strategy you can use to help you narrow a topic is to ask some W/H questions of your broad topic and combine a few concepts together. Let's use parental involvement as an example:

  • Spanish-speaking parents (who)
  • United States (where)
  • education (what)
  • student success (what)
  • language (what)

By combining a few concepts, I now have a more narrow research question.

Example: How does language affect parental involvement in children's education?

In my preliminary research, I discovered that that parental involvement is important for student achievement. I also discovered, that in addition to other related factors, there is a relationship between language use and parental involvement in schools. It's only by doing this preliminary research that I can consider taking a position. In my paper, I might try to argue that since parental involvement has a positive correlation with student success, schools should [???] to help increase Spanish-speaking parent involvement in children's education.

¿Tu pregunta tiene conceptos W/H? / Does your question have W/H concepts?

Scholarly journal article title: School Readiness of Children of Immigrants: Does Parental Involvement Play a Role? (2008)

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

Does your current question reflect relationships between concepts? Look at your question in the spreadsheet. You don't need every concept filled out, and you can have more than one in each category, but it can be helpful to bring some of these concepts into view.

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?