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5WH Technique for Brainstorming & Research

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

To use the 5WH technique, first form questions from the question words above and key words from a text, lecture or other source. The use of questions is vital for studying. When you ask questions about what you are studying then you begin to understand the topic. You can use the 5WH technique to brainstorm assignment questions and to help in researching topics. It is a way of getting into a topic and finding out what aspects of the topic that you need to research. You may find that some questions dont make sense with some topics or that some questions ask the same thing as an earlier question that you have made up. In these circumstances only use the questions which help you to probe the topic and understand its main aspects. Some questions will also be more important than others. There are two types of information that 5WH questions can help draw out:

Type 1: Facts
Questions that ask for facts may start with What, When, Who and Where. Examples: What is the subject of the lecture? Where is the lecture room? Who is giving the lecture? When is the lecture?

Type 2: Critical Thought

Questions that require critical thought may start with Why and How. These questions help you to build answers to a topic and they help you to formulate reasons for your answers. Examples: Why do you study? How do you study?

Study Guide

Kahurangi Student Learning Centre

Below is an example to show you how to form questions from key words. The topic is in the form of an assignment question. Key words have been underlined. Do not forget the verb. The verb "discuss" indicates the depth of critical thinking acquired for the question. Eco-tourism and adventure tourism are growing sectors of the New Zealand tourism industry. Discuss regulation of these sectors with particular regard to safety and environmental issues.

1. Fact Finding Questions What is eco-tourism? Who participates in eco-tourism? What is adventure tourism? Who participates in adventure tourism? Where does adventure tourism happen? When did adventure tourism begin?

Where does eco-tourism happen?

When did eco-tourism begin?

What are the regulations that govern eco-tourism and/or adventure tourism? What are the safety regulations? What are the environmental regulations?

2. Critical Questions Why are the safety regulations important? Why are the environmental regulations important? How do the safety regulations affect adventure tourism? How do the environmental regulations affect eco-tourism?

Study Guide

Kahurangi Student Learning Centre