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Questions and Hypotheses

Questions and Hypotheses

Author: Karla Sorensen
Description:

--Learn what kinds of questions are scientifically testable and what kinds are not.

--Practice writing questions and hypotheses from various topics.

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Tutorial

Posing Questions

For each of the 4 paragraphs introducing the topic of Posing Testable Questions, write a one-sentence summary of the key points.

Then complete the Reading Checkpoint and the 11 practice questions.

Full Screen

Copy down the key points of the notes below. You do not have to copy the examples, but you do have to read and understand them!

Constructing a Hypothesis

A hypothesis is a prediction about the answer to a question or an explanation for an observation being made. It is usually written in the format “If ______, then ______.”

A hypothesis should:

  1. Be Logical -

Not a logical hypothesis: If I were to drink a soda, then I could fly to the moon.

We know that gravity prevents me from flying and that I would be unable to breathe in the vacuum of space.

  1. Account for Relevant Information - Check to see if the experiment has already been done.

Perhaps another experiment has already tested your hypothesis. Can other experiments that have already been done help you alter your hypothesis?

  1. Be Testable - There must be a way to test the hypothesis with an experiment.

Can you test your hypothesis by setting up an experiment?

  1. Be Simple - The simplest form of a question make the best hypotheses.

Not a simple hypothesis: If I don’t get enough sleep, then I’ll never get into college.

Sleep and college are separated by many smaller steps:

Get enough sleep à able to focus at school à complete coursework à submit a strong application to colleges

Because this process can be derailed for many reasons besides sleep, the simplest hypothesis should only link sleep to the ability to focus.

A hypothesis can NEVER be PROVEN, only disproven.  Consider the following hypothesis: “If I leave my porch light on, more bugs will be attracted.”

You could have 1000 sets of data that SUPPORT this hypothesis, but that doesn’t mean it will always hold true.  If even ONE time more bugs are NOT attracted, then the hypothesis will have to be modified or rejected. 

When you write a conclusion, you should say your hypothesis is SUPPORTED or REJECTED by the data, but never proven.

Practice Time!

Question and Hypothesis Practice

For each topic below, write a TESTABLE QUESTION using the “How does _______ affect __________?” format. Each topic can have several different questions.  When creating a question you will be narrowing down the topic to “testable variables”. Your hypothesis should have the format “If _____, then _____.”

 

Example:

Topic: "Students’ height"

Possible questions:             "How does a student’s age affect his/her height?"

                 "How does a student’s diet affect his/her height?"

Possible hypotheses:          “If a student grows older, then s/he will grow taller until age 21.”

                                         “If a student drinks a lot of milk, then s/he will be taller than

students who do not drink as much milk.”

 

Wildlife in the neighborhood

Question: __________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Hypothesis: __________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Mold growing in your home

Question: __________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Hypothesis: __________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Summer Temperatures

Question: __________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

 

Hypothesis: __________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________