Effects of inference training on 6th graders’ reading comprehension

The project studied the effect of inference training in reading comprehension.

Texts are rarely fully explicit. When the relationship between words, sentences and paragraphs are implicit, it is required that the reader draws his or her own conclusions. These types of conclusions are called inferences. Inferences are necessary in order to obtain a coherent understanding of texts.

The importance of inferences in reading comprehension was examined in two studies. The first study is a summary of ten previous effect studies on inference training. The ten previous studies included in total eighteen alternative methods of teaching inferences, all conducted amongst English speaking children. An analysis of these studies showed that the teaching had substantial effect both on inferences and on reading comprehension.

The second study was an effect study where Norwegian 6th graders were thaught inferences. The students were presented with texts and questions that required the students to make inferences, and graphic models intended to illustrate the relationships between pieces of information given in the text. The teaching was administered by the students’ teachers, and consisted of eight session, each lasting approximately 30 minutes.

The sudents who had received inference training, would later make more inferences during reading, compared to students who had not received inference training. Inference training also lead to improved reading comprehension.

«Betydningen av inferens for leseforståelse. Effekter av inferenstrening» 
This was a 4 year PhD programme at the Reading Center, University of Stavanger. The project was run by PhD student Ida Buch-Iversen, in collaboration with Carsten Elbro (University of Copenhagen).