Comprehension and Inference

Students need to be fully engaged in reading comprehension activities. When students are able to make connections between ideas from the text and their own knowledge and experiences, they will better understand what they are reading. There are many factors that contribute to reading comprehension, such as: word identification, reading fluency, and breadth of vocabulary. However, reading comprehension will not happen if one of the main reading strategies is not being used, namely, the ability to make inferences.

Inferencing is the ability to read between the lines. In order to understand what they read, students must create inferences by associating the clues in the text to their own knowledge so that they can discover what is not written. While most readers have a natural ability for inferencing, there are some who struggle with this skill because they have difficulty incorporating information that is new to them. These students need the opportunity to learn to inference using simplified language and simple ideas in order to improve their reading comprehension skills.

It was believed for a long time that all we had to do to improve students’ reading comprehension was to ask students to individually read a text, to answer some questions, and then to take up the answers together. This pedagogical approach is a method of evaluation, and not a method for teaching, but it was a common approach that was encouraged by many sources, including past practice and textbooks. Nowadays, teachers are aware that they must more deliberately and directly support students’ understanding and development of inferencing skills.