Teaching students the differences between making inferences, drawing conclusions, and predicting outcomes may be one of the most difficult skills to teach. This series of three posts includes definitions, examples, and activities.
Conclusions are opinions, judgments, or decisions that are formed based on a situation’s facts. A reader or observer collects information. Readers weigh the evidence. The evidence proves what is going to happen or the next logical step in the information series.
Authors often mix clues throughout a text in a haphazard manner. This means the reader must interpret, evaluate, make inferences, and then draw conclusions.
Readers must —
- make conclusions based on logically-derived information.
- be aware of the time and place including the time of day, season, as well as a decade. Progress changes the way people live from decade to decade.
- not make conclusions based on stated facts.
- sift out facts from opinions – Readers should not make conclusions based on opinions.
More about Conclusions
Just like making inferences, the reader must examine the facts in a novel or real-life situation to draw a conclusion. Let’s look at Bill again.
Bill walks into the Verizon store wearing a wet bathing suit. He carries his iPhone in his hand. The screen is cloudy with condensation. A drop of water falls from the iPhone to the floor.
You can conclude that Bill is going into the store to get his iPhone repaired based on the facts; however, the actual decision may be different from the conclusion you make. Bill might decide to purchase a new phone. A salesclerk might tell Bill to take the phone home and place it in a bag of rice to try to dry out the moisture.
By using inferences, you might draw additional conclusions. For example, the next time Bill purchases a phone, it will be waterproof.
To understand drawing conclusions, try this activity. Bring in an assortment of bags with objects in each.
- duffel bag filled with exercise clothing and a water bottle
- evening bag with a comb, mirror, lipstick, and a credit card
- tote bag with bathrobe, socks, 2 pairs of pajamas, ID, insurance card, crossword puzzle book, and medical records
- backpack with textbooks, graded tests signed by a parent, notebook paper, pens, and pencils
Have students make an inference about where the owner is taking the bag based on the type of bag and the items found inside. Next students draw conclusions about the owner of the bag based on the type of bag, its contents, and the inferences that were made.
Inference — The person with the tote bag is going to the hospital. The reader infers this based on the type of clothing and medical records enclosed.
Conclusions — The person is planning on having an operation/procedure that will keep him in the hospital for at least two days. The operation is probably a minor one because the person only has two sets of clothing. The owner plans on getting out of bed because otherwise a bathrobe would not be needed. The person expects to be bored. The crossword puzzle book will provide some entertainment, so the owner does not plan on spending a lot of time sleeping.
Activity #1 – Brochure Fold Graphic Organizer
Go over the definitions and examples using this FREE foldable organizer. Click here to download the pdf file. Be sure to collect all three.
Activity #2 – Drawing Conclusions – YouTube
From RoomD407, this ten-minute lesson video gives step-by-step instructions to students. Examples model how paragraphs are broken into parts and evaluated.
Created through a grant, this video lesson contains definitions and scenarios.