Cause and Effect Tree

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Participatory Methods Tools
Dialect Mapping Tool
Bilingualism Tool
Domains of Language Use Tool
Appreciative Inquiry Tool
Cause and Effect Tree
Stakeholder Analysis
Force Field Analysis
Community Connection Tool
Traffic Light Tool
Wheel of Vitality
Church Domains Tool


The primary purpose of this tool is to assist leaders in thinking about the reasons they use the languages they do and the effects that the use of those languages have on the outcomes of certain aspects of development.


Useful if you are working in a community where there is a lot of pessimism or negativity. It can be used after the Domains of Language Use Tool.


  • lots of rectangular pieces of paper
  • lots of fruit-shaped pieces of paper (for example, could be banana-shaped if you work in a country with bananas)
  • lots of triangular pieces of paper
  • some bold markers to write with
  • a simple drawing of a tree on a large piece of paper showing the branches, trunk and roots (you may need one of these for each language under discussion)
  • lots of plastic markers


Step # Ask/Say Do
1 If the domains of language use tool was not used, then ask, "What languages are spoken by the members of your community?" Note the languages. If more than one, you will need to construct a tree for each and then compare them.
2 What are the parts of a tree? What does each part do? Let participants answer. Hopefully they will say that the roots absorb nutrients and the fruit is what is produced.
3 This tree represents the causes and effects of using [LWC] in the activities of the community. Lay down paper with a drawing of the tree. Place label with phrase “Using [LWC] in the community.” on the trunk.
4 The causes will be shown as roots; the good results will be symbolized as fruit. Any bad results will be symbolized as dry leaves. Show papers that will represent roots, fruit and leaves
5 (Refer back to Domains Tool) Why do you use [LWC] in these activities? They write one cause on a rectangular piece of paper and place it on the roots part of the tree picture. They write as many causes as they can think of.
6 Which of the causes do you think is the main cause? Place this marker on that cause. The community identify the main cause with markers.
7 What are the effects of using [LWC] in the activities of our community? They write good effects on round fruit paper and bad effects on triangle leaf paper
8 Which of the good effects do you think is the main one? Place this marker on that effect. Repeat for bad effects.
9 Repeat steps 3 to 8 for the use of [L1].
10 What are the similarities between the trees? What are the differences?
11 Ask someone to summarise what has been discussed.


  • Step 6: Individuals could all place one marker and then the main cause would be identified by the largest number of markers. However, in a community where leaders initiate and the community follows, this would only make explicit that the community are following the leader's initial choice.
  • Step 10: If only one tree has been discussed, go straight to Step 11.
  • If the analogy needs to be adapted, consider using different coloured paper for good leaves and bad leaves


  • This tool's analogy only works in communities that have fruit-bearing trees.
  • This tool only works in communities that follow the biological principles of plants AND the deterministic principles of cause and effect.
  • This is an anlytical tool only. In order to gain a sense of progress, it may be helpful to only use this as the first step in going on to discuss plans to tackle the issues raised in this discussion.

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