Everyday life is filled with cause-and-effect relationships! Mastering this concept and using it strategically can lead to great success in life and career, as it is an important foundational skill for engagement with content and, relatedly, solving real-world problems.” — Dr. Nancy Sulla in Building Executive Function: The Missing Link to Student Achievement

Have students use the various levels of graphic organizers below to identify cause-and-effect relationships that exist in academics as well as everyday life!

Simple cause-and-effect diagrams help students, particularly younger or struggling students, see the connection among events: This happened, so then this happened. Sample uses of the graphic organizer appear below:

  • Identify an event and/or character action and how it affects the protagonist and/or other characters in the novel.

  • Identify the setting and how it affects the character and/or conflict in the book.

  • Describe the effect a particular line of code has on an object.

  • Identify an event that led to another event in a historical conflict (e.g., American Revolution, World War II, etc.).

  • Find cause-and-effect relationships when watching the news or television shows, cooking, or interacting with others.

  • Describe the effect of mixing different primary colors together.

  • Describe the effect on singing when breathing through the diaphragm.

Cause and Effect: Single Connection

Next, students can look at secondary effects: a causes b, but then b causes c. Sample uses of the graphic organizer include:

  • Describe the primary and secondary effect of a natural disaster, e.g., hurricanes, floods, drought, etc.

  • Track the primary and secondary effect as a result of a character’s actions or words.

  • Identify the primary and secondary effects that occurred as a result of a war.

  • Hypothesize the primary and secondary effects if multiple members of the band don’t practice their part.

Cause and Effect: Secondary Effect

Sometimes, one event, action, or feeling will produce multiple effects, which then produce another effect:

  • Describe the effects of a natural disaster (e.g., hurricane, flood, drought, etc.) on both wildlife and humans in that region.

  • Identify the chain of events that occur as a result of a character’s action or an event in a novel.

  • Identify a historical or current event that spurred multiple effects.

  • Hypothesize different possible effects that would result from increasing the price of an item of high demand.

  • Describe the causes (e.g., reactants) and effects (e.g., products) of cellular respiration, photosynthesis, or any process.

Cause and Effect: Multiple Outcomes SHARED

After considering existing circumstances, consider what the future impact might be:

  • What are the effects of the Australian fires, and what might those effects produce in the future?

  • What has happened already in the story, and what might happen in the future, based on those events?

  • What are the effects of bullying on an individual, and what might that cause in the future?

Cause and Effect: Predicting the Future v1

EdQuiddity offers online workshops (Virtual Learning Communities, or VLCs) on building executive function into lesson plans and building a culture of executive function in the classroom. For more information, visit