Gathering facts

The five whys

Some means of gathering data are:

  • define key terms
  • articulate assumptions
  • discuss the problem with someone else
  • get the viewpoint of others
  • use the five whys

The five whys consist of asking a series of questions about a problem until a cause that can be resolved is found. The more whys you ask about a problem, the closer you get to finding the cause.

  1. I can't teach. Why?
  2. The students are too noisy. Why?
  3. They are talking to each other. Why?
  4. The subject is not keeping their interest. Why?
  5. They don't know how it will affect their lives now and later. Why?
  6. No one has shown them or told them.
An example of reflection:

We need a better way to kill mice. 

  • Why? Because we are overrun by mice and they are bothering us.
  • Why are we overrun? Because there is food all over. Maybe we should get rid of the food.
  • Or maybe we should redefine the problem to: We need a better way to keep mice from bothering us. This may suggest a different solution from that of killing them, like driving them away, keeping them out of the house in the first place.
Check sheets

Check Sheets are simply an easy to understand form used to answer the questions like: How often are certain events happening?; What kinds of events are happening?; What are the reasons given for things that happen?

Design a form that is easy to use, clearly labeled with adequate space. Collect consistently and honestly. An example would be  a basic late for class sheet or register.

There are some graphical ways to gather data called fishbone diagrams and scatter diagrams. You can see them next.