Using Weighted Hinge Questions (WHQs) to Assess Students’ Causal Understanding, pp. 8 of 10

Table 2: Correspondence of options to levels of understanding (Example 2)

Example of WHQ option for topic <X>:

Level of understanding

Ideas about causation

Questions/tasks to develop understandings

(Differentiated learning)

(a) The war in Asia-Pacific broke out because President Roosevelt declared war on Japan after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941.

1 - Explanation in terms of description

Describes the trigger factor and immediate outcome

Why did President Roosevelt declare war on Japan? Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbour?

(b) The war in Asia-Pacific broke out because Japan pursued an aggressive and expansionist policy to conquer territories and gather more resources.

2 - Explanation in terms of agents and actions

Solely focused on intentions and actions (trigger factor)

Was the outbreak of war in Asia-Pacific solely based on Japan’s policy choices? What made these choices possible? What made these choices more likely?

(c) Japan’s ambition to establish itself in world politics contributed to the crisis in the 1930s which drove the Japanese expansionist foreign policy, triggering Japan’s response to world developments that ignited the outbreak of war in Asia-Pacific.

3 - Explanation in terms of causal chains and/or networks

Simplistic chain reaction

Did each step of this causal chain necessarily lead to the next? Were there other implications at each step? What other possibilities could arise from each part of the chain? Why did these possibilities not happen in the end?

(d) The weaknesses of the League of Nations made it possible for war in Asia-Pacific to break out as it failed to restrain countries’ aggression towards others. Japanese expansionist policy, however, was more important as it forced the outbreak of war.

4 - Explanation in terms of conditions for actual and possible events

Focus on the contextual factors which cause the event

How did the impact of each of these factors intersect with that of other factors? How did this intersection cause the outbreak of war in Asia-Pacific?

(e) While the Japanese expansionist policy had increased tensions in Asia-Pacific, Japan’s responses to world developments in the 1930s were the clearest cause of the outbreak of war because they led directly to war.

5 - Explanation in terms of contexts as well as conditions

Complex causal explanation

How would you explain the causes that led to the outbreak of war in the Asia Pacific? Construct a comprehensive causal explanation using a mind-map or a concept map.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!