The Document-Based Question (DBQ) Essay

Think of it as a puzzle...

You will be provided with a prompt, and some background information about the event or topic in question.

After this, you will get a collection of documents.  Remember, they are all deliberately chosen to help answer the question.  They are all relevant!

Your challenge is to identify the meaning within the documents and develop groups that will be used to answer the prompt (and be the basis of your body paragraphs). Remember, a grouping must have at least 2 documents!

In addition, you will be asked to develop a Point of View (POV) statement for at least 2 documents.  POV demonstrates how well you can identify one of more of the following:

  • Use of tone to communicate a message.
  • Consideration of background of document author: What is his/her "angle?" What would speaker stand to gain/lose?  Who is the audience, and why?

Finally, you will need to identify an additional document that would be useful to help answer the question.  An additional document:

  • Must be from an author or perspective not already provided.
  • May be text, image, video, or something physical.
  • Does not have to actually exist (or be possible to exist).  Use your imagination.
  • Must clearly describe what is being seen/read, and can explain why it can be used to answer the prompt.

Examples Can Include:

  • Maps
  • Recordings
  • Letters/Diary Entries
  • Propaganda Posters
  • Buildings, Blueprints
  • Photographs
  • Charts or graphs (describe what information would be seen as relevant to prompt)

Getting Started...

Check out this interactive document.  It has links to youtube videos for many of the steps.

Here is a sample paragraph.

Break Down Documents

Analyze Point of View (POV)

Analyze Documents & Connect to Prompt

How Is This Graded?

Check out the Rubric

Here is the Class Grading Policy