P = Population (participants, problem, process, point of view, primary event)
I = Intervention (therapy, treatment, causes or etiology, improvement, interpretation, impact)
C = Comparison (Opposing arguments)
O = Outcome (measurement)
Focus is on the health sciences but the process is the same for all subject areas.
Who, What, When, Where, Why (and How)
Background reading allows the researcher to fill in most of the basic questions: Who, What, When and Where
That leaves Why and How
Researchers in most fields are looking for one of two things:
The Why or the How then becomes the I element of the PICO formula.
The P element of the PICO formula is typically the Who or the What
Using PICO Question in Education
Background | Five Ws
Do high stakes tests improve high school graduation rates? (This is a HOW question).
The P element is a Problem and the I element is a suggested Intervention.
Foreground | PICO
In high school graduation rates (P), do high stakes tests (I) compared to no-stakes tests (C) improve the rates? (O)
Search in ERIC:
high school graduation rates AND high stakes tests
All(high school graduation rates) AND ti (high stakes tests)