Skip to content

Causes and Effects

Fri, 29 Dec 2023, 10:20 AM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

We can keep going with this, you know…

1. Root Cause Analysis 

When you launch rockets or fly airplanes full of passengers, you want things to go well. You don’t want mishaps.

There is an engineering discipline called root cause analysis dedicated to providing objective techniques for trying to make sure bad days don’t happen. It is used by NASA and the FAA — think the Challenger explosion, think near collisions between passenger jets on a runway. But it’s actually a general tool for thinking about how to avoid problems.

Today you will use root cause analysis as a tool to understand the US Civil War. And you’ll also do some math.

2. The Assignment

I hand out the assignment to the class. It includes what the students are to do and a rubric for how I will grade their work. Here are their instructions.

  • Write a brief definition of root cause analysis. Explain what it is and what some of the core concepts are. Cite your references.
  • Provide two examples of how root cause analysis has been used in the real world. Briefly explain each example and how the analysis was used. Cite your references.
  • Briefly explain your understanding of the difference between a root cause and a proximate cause.
  • Before 2019, the Texas social studies curriculum mandated teaching the causes of the civil war as (a) sectionalism, (b) states’ rights, and (c) slavery, in that order. Briefly summarize what each of those causes “mean” with regard to the US Civil War. Cite your references.
  • Explicitly classify those three causes of the Civil War as either root or proximate causes. Briefly justify your classification based on the definitions.
  • Briefly explain why you do or don’t feel that (a) the US Civil War was a “mishap” and (b) root cause analysis is a useful tool for understanding the history of the US Civil War. (There is no “correct” answer, here. I am interested in your thinking.)
  • And… since this is a math class, also complete this synthetic division worksheet.

Let’s skip over the grading rubric. Nothing of significance to see there, right?

© jumpingfish by David Hasan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License