August 29, 2014

Inferring Comprehension Strategy: How Memory Affects the Ability of Children to Infer

Inferring requires a reader to use his/her background knowledge combined with clues from the text to draw conclusions not explicitly expressed in a text.  Inferring in Grades 4 -8 can be much more challenging as learners are reading much longer and more complex texts.  The length and complexity of text can become stumbling blocks for learners who have weak short-term memories.  Teachers need to be aware of how memory affects inferring for assessment purposes. It may not be that a child is unable to infer, it may be that their memory prevents them from remembering their inferences and the ability connect one inference with another.  When children struggle with inferring, teachers should first observe if a child's memory is affecting their learning.

Memory affects inferring as some children have difficulty holding multiple clues in their head in order to draw conclusions.  Longer and more complex texts require children to identify these clues and keep them in mind for long periods of time.  Children with memory issues (even slight ones) can easily miss important clues in the text as one clue builds upon another.These children are unable to connect and build upon these clues because they don't remember they made connecting inferences earlier in their reading.  Teachers need to identify this issue and teach these readers strategies for inferring success. Sticky notes left in the text is one great teaching strategy for these readers to hold onto and review their prior thinking before continuing to read.

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