How to Develop Inferential Thinking
A lot of us have heard of drawing inference from a statement, but many don’t know this is a skill that can be developed. Therefore, in this article, we will provide tips on how to develop inferential thinking.
When we read a text, as well as when we look around us, our mind performs a series of activities or tasks that allow us to understand their content beyond the explicit information we receive from them. This process of perception and elaboration of the information that has as a product the production of a series of conclusions is known as inferential thinking. In this article, we will share the characteristics of this procedure, as well as the different types that exist and how to enhance its development.
What is inferential thinking?
By inferential thinking, we understand the ability or capacity to interpret, combine ideas and draw a series of conclusions from certain data or perceived information. Thanks to this ability, we can determine or identify certain information that is not explicitly found in the source. For this, the person uses their cognitive schemes and previous experiences, as well as a series of scripts and models provided by the culture itself.
This term comes from the field of psycholinguistics, which attributed it to the second level that the person reaches in a process of reading comprehension. Within which it allows the reader to conclude the information obtained directly from the text. This ability consists of a very complex process in which the reader performs a cognitive elaboration of the information obtained in the text, which is combined with the mental schemes themselves to result in the representation of the meaning of a writing. However, this meaning that is given to the information does not start directly from the written words but the reader’s cognition. This means that inferential thinking goes beyond the limit of understanding the information contained in the text explicitly since it forces the reader to use their scripts or cognitive schemes to achieve said understanding.
The components of this psychological process
To carry out the entire process of inferential thinking, the person needs the correct functioning of three essential elements:
1. Sensory system
It allows us to perceive and process the information we receive through sight and hearing
2. Working memory
The processing and integration of the information is carried out while it is received
3. Long-term memory
Its main function is to store the mental schemes thanks to which we can carry out inferential thinking
In conclusion, achieving the correct functioning of inferential thinking not only helps us understand information, but also helps us understand the world around us. All this without having to resort to the direct or explicit information that it provides us.
What types are there?
As we mentioned, inferential thinking allows us to elaborate cognitive representations or images based on sensory information and using our mental schemes. The product of this process is known as inference, there are different types of these according to their degree of complexity.
Also called “coherent inferences”, they are the product of an inferential thought process in which information is organized into large thematic units that allow us to associate textual information with information from our memory. This means that the reader draws up a series of general conclusions or resolutions based on the entire text that he has just read.
An example of global inferences is found in the understanding of the moral of a story or when we think about the intention that the writer of the work had.
Also known as cohesive inferences, these inferences help us understand and draw conclusions from a text while we are reading it. In them, the interpretations are made from specific information of a specific paragraph or sentence. Thanks to them we can give meaning to the information read, during the moment of reading.
These types of inferences occur once the person has finished reading the text and its main function is to understand the reason for certain events or facts that are related to the text. For example, they refer to the interpretation of some causal consequences that may appear in the narrative. That is, the person can understand the reason for the specific events that occur in the text.
How can we develop inferential thinking?
As we have already established in this post, inferential thinking is a skill, it develops throughout a person’s life and as such, it is capable of being trained and developed through a series of techniques or strategies.
This ability can already be observed in children as young as three years old. Therefore, from this age on we can enhance the development of inferential thinking and thus favour both the child’s reading comprehension and the understanding of what is happening around him.
To do this, we can use some specially developed tools or strategies to develop this skill. However, as it is gradual progress, we must consider the level of development of the child and adapt these techniques to their abilities.
Some of the tools that favour inferential thinking are:
Choice of appropriate texts
The choice of texts whose level of difficulty is appropriate for the child’s abilities is essential as a first step in developing inferential thinking. The texts should pose a little challenge for the reader. That is, they can give rise to a certain level of inference but without being too complicated, since otherwise, it can generate feelings of frustration or boredom.
Ask questions about the text
Prepare questions about the text that require a certain degree of inference, that is, do not ask about things that are explicitly stated, as well as ask the student to make their observations and draw conclusions about the narrative.
Another option is to ask the child to try to predict what will happen next while the child is reading. Ask them to develop their theories and hypotheses and to explain the basis for these conclusions.
Learning by modelling
Finally, in younger children, the educator himself can serve as a model when it comes to differential thinking. To do this, he must describe the mental process he is carrying out, in this way the child is provided with an example of a pattern that he can imitate.
From the above, it is obvious that drawing inference is a skill that can be developed with the right focus. With the tips we have provided in this article, we hope you sharpen your logical reasoning skill.