How Do You Effectively Determine Cause and Effect?

The ability to recognise cause and effect is one of the most important and fundamental skills required to make meaning from text read and to elevate understanding from mere rote repetition of words to actual comprehension.

Something happens, and that causes something else to happen. The existence of an action or event causes or precipitates an effect, the direct or indirect result of the original cause. It sounds pretty simple, put like this, but can you imagine how much more difficult it is to understand a passage or story when you don’t understand the nature of cause and effect occurring within them? Without this vital concept events take place unmoored from reason or consequence, and stories are rendered unintelligible for the reader who has no idea what is going on, and why it is happening.

In order to truly understand what is happening in a story it is absolutely integral to be able to understand why something is happening. For this reason, Recognising Cause and Effect is one of the bedrock strategies featured in CARS & STARS Online, and recurs throughout every level of the program.

Questions about Cause and Effect ask students to drill down into the events of a story or passage and ascertain not just what has happened within it but why things have occurred the way they have. In the earlier levels of the program the relationship between cause and effect is generally a direct and visible one – this happened, which caused this to happen – whereas at the higher levels cause and effect may be slightly more indirect and oblique, with the relationship not stated outright in the text but requiring more advanced textual analysis skills to determine.

Recognising Cause and Effect is an important element not just in reading comprehension but, in a broader sense, a vital life skill for making sense of the world, and for this reason it is a pivotal part of the 12 reading strategies that underpin CARS & STARS Online.