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Inferential Strategy

Inferential Strategy seeks to connect a reader's prior knowledge and experiences with their comprehension of a text. This strategy rests on constructivist theory that learners "build" knowledge constructs when they interpret new information in light of past experiences and rethink past knowledge in light of new information.

Unlike many reading strategies, the Inferential Strategy does not encourage "breaking up" a text—stopping throughout the narrative to comment on or evaluate a specific point. Rather, this strategy poses poignant questions prior to reading and encourages discussion after reading.

Steps to the Inferential Strategy:

  1. Analyze a reading selection carefully before presenting it to students. Identify 3 or 4 main ideas in the passge prior to assigning the reading selection to the class.

  2. Develop a series of pre-reading questions for a planned reading assignment. Specifically, plan 2 questions for each main idea in the text. The first question should elicit previous knowledge of the topic. The second should point beyond past knowledge and encourage students to imagine, speculate, and predict.

  3. Have students write their predictions and speculations prior to reading the selection.

  4. Again, before reading, encourage students to share both their prior knowledge of the topic and their predictions about the reading selection.

  5. Next, ask class members to read the selection carefully. Be sure the students read the passage as a whole without interruption.

  6. After reading, have the students review their written predictions about the passage. Ask each student how the new information changed/reshaped his prior knowledge.