FINDINGS – A “Finding” consists of a statement relevant to the issues being addressed and is derived entirely from the facts learned during the data collection (interview) process. Findings are used as the foundation from which conclusions regarding the issues may be drawn. Findings are the RESULTS of an investigation.
Be careful NOT to confuse a “Finding” from a “Fact” or a “Finding” from a “Conclusion.”
FINDINGS tell you what the FACTS mean; CONCLUSIONS are statements of closure and are inferences drawn from the FINDINGS which are true based on the FACTS; RECOMMENDATIONS are made based on the CONCLUSIONS drawn.
With this in mind, the students held their first team meeting to conduct their analysis – concentrating on interpreting their clearly written notes and summaries from their interviews. The meeting was led by the team captain.
Their first task was, of course, to develop their FINDINGS.
(Here’s a tip: Careful construction of the findings and summary of findings is really writing the Findings chapter of the final report! So do it well!)
The most useful tool in developing findings in a team meeting is a ‘flip chart’ placed in the front of the meeting room and each question given at least one sheet. Each sheet contains no more information on it except that which is derived from the answers to one specific question.
The purpose of the meeting was to allow the students to “dump core” – to talk in some detail about the responses they heard for each question. The team focused on each question separately until the group felt that what they had learned and documented on the flip chart was complete and accurate. The result for each question should represent the ‘best thinking of the team’ regarding the answer to each question.
When each question was fully documented on the flip chart, the team constructed ONE SENTENCE to accurately describe the answer to the question and wrote at least three “dot points” below the sentence to support what was communicated in the sentence. Bear in mind that this takes TIME – the sentence describing the answer should be well-constructed, to the point, and not too long. An example of a finding from the team is shown in the image below.
In this example, the bold sentence represents the FINDING regarding how people seem to base their decision on choosing a medical practice. This finding is based on the FACTS that personal referrals are the reason why most people select a medical practice; other facts regarding how they made this choice are less important.
It is not unusual for this “core dumping” process to require at least 15-20 minutes per question. The team captain should expect at least four hours or at least two team meetings to complete the task of developing findings – and he/she must insist on high quality thinking because from these findings the CONCLUSIONS will be drawn.
Once all of the FINDINGS have been developed, those findings should be arranged in a logical sequence so that they ‘tell a story.’ An effective method to check the logical order of the findings is to write a summary page of the findings that will eventually appear on the last page of the findings chapter in the final report. Such a summary page created by the Wheaton Medical Clinic student team is shown in the image below.
As mentioned earlier, detailed attention to this process will ensure that the findings are true (i.e., “P” is true in the logical process). Additionally, careful construction of the sentences and summary of the findings is actually writing the final report as this will become the “Findings Chapter” of that report.
Next, the students turned to drawing their CONCLUSIONS.