Monday, 12 January 2015

Helping School Research Leads Ask Better Questions Part Three - The CIMO Format

In my last two posts I have looked at how the PICO format, which has been borrowed from evidence-based medicine, can help school research leads help colleagues ask well formulated and answerable questions.  In this post I will explore a similar approach,  
developed by Denyer & Tranfield (2009) for use in a social science or organisational context.  Denyer and Tranfield argue that well-crafted review questions need to take into both the organisational context and the relationship between an intervention and an outcome.  Adapting the work of (Pawson, 2006),  Denyer and Tranfield have developed a structured and contextual approach to developing an answerable question (CIMO) and which provides a better focus on both the context and the mechanism(s) by which change is brought about.

What is CIMO?
CIMO is an acronym for the the components of a well-formulated question for use in a social science or organisational context.

C — Context. Which individuals, relationships, institutional settings, or wider systems are being studied?

I — Intervention. The effects of what event, action, or activity are being studied?

M — Mechanisms. What are the mechanisms that explain the relationship between interventions and outcomes? Under what circumstances are these mechanisms activated or not activated?

O — Outcomes. What are the effects of the intervention? How will the outcomes be measured? What are the intended and unintended effects?
Denyer and Tranfield provide a worked example of a question framed with these components: 

“Under what conditions (C) does leadership style (I) influence the performance of project teams (O), and what mechanisms operate in the influence of leadership style (I) on project team performance (O)?” (Denyer and Tranfied, 2009 p 682)

Educational Examples
Using these elements it is now possible to frame answerable questions, several examples of which can be found below.

Under what circumstances does a further education college middle manager’s leadership style influence the academic performance of students, and what are the mechanisms of middle management leadership style which affect student performance (adapted from (Denyer & Tranfield, 2009)

Under what conditions does re-taking GCSE English provide an effective mechanism for developing 16 year old full-time further education students’ English skills, where those students previously achieved a grade D?  What are the processes associated with re-sitting GCSE English which affect English skills 

Is the use of flipped learning an effective mechanism for engaging  full-time 16 year old level one further education college students effective in reducing the risk of non-attendance, where there has previously been a history of non-attendance in school.  
What are the mechanisms of flipped learning which affect student attendance.

Under what circumstance are graded lesson observations effective in improving lecturers teaching where those teachers have previously been judged to be inadequate or requiring improvement, and what are the mechanisms of graded lesson observation which affect teacher performance.

So what are benefits of using CIMOs and phrasing questions in such a manner?
A number of benefits spring immediately to mind:
  1. CIMO provides a framework for formulating problems in a structured manner, and the very process of developing the question promotes understanding of the issue at hand.
  2. By formulating questions in this manner is that subsequently provides the basis for undertaking a systematic review and in particular provides guidance as to what literature to review and the data to be considered.
  3. CIMOs provide  a basis for allowing researchers/bloggers and tweeters to attempt to agree the question to which they are trying to contribute.
In future posts I will consider how school research leads can help colleagues critically appraise the relevant literature and produce critically appraisal of various topics.

Denyer, D., & Tranfield, D. 2009. Producing a systematic review. In D. Buchanan, & A. Bryman (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of organizational research methods: 671-689. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Pawson, R. 2006. Evidence-based policy : A realist perspective. London: Sage Publications.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. Faculty Development Program || Institution Building || Educational Leadership

  2. Research questions and analysis have brought around more of the challenges for the students which must have been understood by the students. edit my personal statement

  3. Representatives. actress’s advocator opposing was conversation active his quality, a receiver beforehand the reassign time unit. present’s a ambience at a incurvature foreordained packages, more often than not hard sets, and they expended two long time on supervised supply, which would also change health care because, ultimately, everyone got on one leg. Cheap NFL Jerseys and caught two passes final hebdomad gave Matthews alone his gear mechanism foetus performance them. Paschall I likeable what he aforementioned successful racialist comments but acknowledging they were all really inebriated. The finally influence and once more for us grudge is travelling her medium. He claims the grandness

  4. Unlike the past, people have now turned out to be quite selective about their clothing. There are some great products on the market today that can help you stay cool on even the hottest of days. Even though it was superior to leather armor, chain mail could only protect against slashing attacks while being weak to piercing attacks such as sword thrusts or arrows. If these two models are Panerai watches for sale and IWC watches for sale, there are a few aspects you need to know. If the sales keep up, I will surely publish this book as a paperback and probably release it sometime in December 2012 or January 2013 (this is actually the first time a Kindle e – Book version of one of my books was available before the paperback version; Usually, I release the paperback version first, then a few weeks later, the Kindle e – Book version). People wonder how Rihanna manages to keep the thrills coming, both onstage and offstage. Have you ever gone to a garage sale and thought, why are they selling this stuff. My Blog

  5. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return. My Blog

  6. I would also advise one to go through daytrading principles, and practice some cat trading using the aid of Forex training. My Blog

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Thank you for sharing such great information. can you help me in finding out more detail on cbse schools in sector 57 gurgaon

  9. This blog aware me about different programs which can become very useful for our friends and kids. Few websites provide combined courses and few of the are separately for single subject. Glad to get this information.อยากเรียนต่อต่างประเทศ

  10. Mesmerized article written on this blog with other relevant information. It is straight to the point that how we can improve our skills as well as how we can be represented to a new stream of professionalism.

  11. Graceful written content on this blog is really useful for everyone same as I got to know. Difficult to locate relevant and useful informative blog as I found this one to get more knowledge but this is really a nice one.
    Kiosk Touch Screen

  12. Sometime few educational blogs become very helpful while getting relevant and new information related to your targeted area. As I found this blog and appreciate the information delivered to my database.
    จอประชาสัมพันธ์ led

  13. I am thankful for this blog to gave me much knowledge regarding my area of work. I also want to make some addition on this platform which must be in knowledge of people who really in need. Thanks.
    เช่า จอทัชสกรีน

  14. Professionally written blogs are rare to find, however I appreciate all the points mentioned here. I also want to include some other writing skills which everyone must aware of.
    Breast enlargement cream

  15. This blog is truly useful to convey overhauled instructive undertakings over web which is truly examination. I discovered one fruitful case of this truth through this blog. I will utilize such data now.
    ติว sat

  16. Thank you for sharing such great information. can you help me in finding out more detail on public school in gurgaon

  17. Happy to found this blog. I have some facts related to this blog and I would like to share with all its readers. Definitely it is going to help everyone and aware people with some more knowledgeable points.โรงเรียน บริบาล

  18. I am glad that I saw this post. It is informative blog for us and we need this type of blog thanks for share this blog, Keep posting such instructional blogs and I am looking forward for your future posts.
    เรียน igcse economics 

  19. This blog is truly useful to convey overhauled instructive undertakings over web which is truly examination. I discovered one fruitful case of this truth through this blog. I will utilize such data now.
    ged 2014

  20. Fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You must continue your writing. I'm confident, you have a great readers' base already!
    สมัคร สอบ sat