Five Whys

Published on: Author: Greg Alchin

Five WhysWhat is it?

Five Whys can be applied at any time to promote deep thinking through questioning.

What aspects of learning are being supported?

  1. Bloom’s Taxonomy: remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating, creating
  2. QT – Intellectual Quality: Deep Knowledge, Deep Understanding, Higher-Order Thinking, Metalanguage, Substantive Communication
  3. QT – Quality Learning Environment: Explicit Quality Criteria, Engagement, High Expectations, Social Support, Students Self-Regulation, Student Direction

Which apps could I use?

  1. DEC managed collaborative tools (via Portal): Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Connect.
  2. Related collaborative tools: EvernoteiCloudBaiBoardNote AnytimeWeb2AccessCool Tools for Schools, and Exploratree.
  3. Analogue collaborative tools: Paper, pens and Postit notes.

How do I use it?

  1. To employ a “Five Whys” process the teacher poses a question related to the topic. This is answered by asking the question “why ?”
  2. The answer then becomes the question number 2 and ‘why’ is then asked again.
  3. The process is repeated five times with the final answer providing a deeper example of student thinking.

Some examples

Q. Why am I returning to Year 11

A. Because I would like to attain my Higher School Certificate.

Q Why do I want to receive my Higher School Certificate?

A. Because I would like to study Art at the University?

Q. Why would I like to study Art at the University?

A. Because it it will allow me to gain employment in an area I am particularly interested in.

Q. Why is important to gain employment in an area I am interested in?

A.  This will enable me to have job and personal satisfaction

Q. Why is important for me to have job and personal satisfaction?

A. So that my life will be more fulfilling


Q. Why do we need to breathe air to stay alive?

A: To get oxygen into our lungs.

Q. Why do we have to get oxygen into our lungs?

A: So that our lungs can pass the oxygen into our blood stream.

Q. Why do our lungs need to pass oxygen into our blood stream?

A: So that all of our cells can be supplied with oxygen.

Q. Why do all our cells need a supply of oxygen?

A: So that the oxygen can combine with the food that we eat to give us energy.

Q. Why do we need energy?

A: We need energy to keep our bodies moving and living.

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