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Before you rush into analysing evidence based on a hunch, you need to pause and explore your initial question.

Initial questions may be general and tentative – often based on a quick look at data. Additional evidence and professional judgment may be needed to be sure that you are onto something. Is there really an issue here? Do you really know what the issue is?

As you start to explore data and other evidence new questions will arise.

It looks like our students are doing well in A but not in B. What can we do about it?

In this case, you should do some preliminary analysis of the data to be sure that the initial impression is justified.

Is this actually the case? Is there anything in the data to suggest what could we do about it?

Then you can look again at the data for possible solutions.

Here is another example of how you should explore questions before you start to look for evidence.

We have been running 60-minute periods for a year now. Did the change achieve the desired effects?

The assumption here is that the change to 60-minute periods was intended to have specific results. So what else should you be asking?

How has the change impacted on student achievement?

Has the change has had other effects? Is there more truancy?

Is more time being spent in class on assignments, rather than as homework?

There is more advice on asking good questions in the Question section.