# Drawing Conclusions Vs. Making Inferences

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by justfine, Mar 27, 2011.

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Mar 27, 2011

What is the difference? How do you define them? Difference?

3. ### nstructorCohort

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Mar 27, 2011

That is so funny, because another teacher and I just had this discussion!!!!! It's really difficult for us to explain to kids and also for them to understand the difference between the two. Also, a lot of sites and people use them interchangeably. You draw a conclusion from making several or a few inferences, but they really go hand in hand!

We use graphic organizers for both:

Details and/or clues in the text, What I know about this Inference and/or conclusion drawn from this.

4. ### jwteacherCohort

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Mar 28, 2011

Think of conclusions as final and definitive. When we draw a conclusion, we have valid data to prove a point. For example, if plants grow taller with 20 mL of water a day instead of 15 or 25 mL, than the height of plants can be affected by the amount of water given to it. That's a scientific fact and it cannot be argued.

With an inference, it's not definitive as we are are only making a logical assumption (educational guess) about something. Sure, we are using details/clues and our schema, but we can't claim it as fact as we are not 100% certain. For example, if Tommy normally wears glasses and cannot see at school today, I can infer that he is not wearing his glasses. The only problem is, I can't be 100% sure. As far as I know, he could have been hit in the head and needs corrective surgery to repair damage to his eyes.

5. ### PacificpastimeCompanion

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Mar 28, 2011

I look at inferences as inductive reasoning. We make some casual observations and without definitive results and draw a general idea or statement about a person, place, thing, ideal etc.
Conclusions on the other hand are more definitive. We draw upon them by using deductive reasoning. Conclusions are reached by eliminating choices/options/reasons and becoming narrower.

They are both similar, but this is what helps me. It does not help that they are used interchangeably by many people.

6. ### 3SonsConnoisseur

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Mar 29, 2011

Inference is the process of drawing conclusions through logic, and also refers to the conclusion drawn. People use it interchangeably because it is interchangeable. It has nothing to do with certainty (and if you think inferences need to be tenuous at all, you will likely miss points on tests like the SAT/GRE/LSAT -- the reading comprehension "inference" questions have correct answers that you would not think of as guesses at all).

Oxford English Dictionary

I'd add that scientific conclusions are generally inferences. The germ theory of disease is based on inferences, the heliocentric theory is based on inferences, and electromagnetic and atomic theory is based on inferences.

7. ### ApachePatchGuest

Feb 10, 2016

Inferences are facts that lead to other facts. Whereas, conclusions are the next logical steps in an information series. For example, facts in text may lead me to infer a character's feelings. I can then draw a conclusion as to the character's next possible actions/reactions.

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8. ### runsw/scissorsPhenom

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Feb 20, 2016

And yet our reading manuals teach these two different concepts exactly the same way. I can't even figure out what the difference is. It easier to define inference vs. conclusion in science investigations than when talking about reading comprehension. I can infer from the information in the paragraph that the boy is planning to trick his friend. I can also use the information in the paragraph to conclude that the boy is planning to trick his friend. There is no final answer until I read further in the chapter or book.

9. ### TrojennyGuest

Feb 26, 2017

The difference is simply in the way you just worded it. A conclusion doesn't say what IS happening, but what will happen, or what is most likely to happen, what is the next logical step based on the evidence presented. So your statement that "I can use the information in the paragraph to conclude that the boy is planning to trick his friend," is incorrect. You would have to say, "I can use the information in the paragraph to conclude that the boy will trick his friend." Then you're saying it will happen, in the future, or next in a sequence of events.

The way you stated it, which is perfectly fine, by the way, makes it an inference, which is something that currently IS, and that's when you would say, "the boy is planning to trick his friend," because at that moment he is planning the trick. It's all semantics, and it's unbelievable that they expect someone as young as 6-years old to grasp it. Ridiculous. We adults struggle with it!

The other tricky part to it is that conclusions may be inferences, but not all inferences are conclusions. Just as poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles. Sheesh!

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