Inferential comprehension

Synthesis occurs as a reader summarises what has happened and gives it personal meaning.

To synthesise information in texts, students need strategies to help them locate important information and recognise it when it is presented in a different format. They need to know how to link related pieces of information to fully understand a text. Sometimes these relationships can be explicitly stated and can involve temporal relations indicated by words such as when, after, then, finally or by specific times. Other information is often found near causal words such as because, so, as, since and therefore and these reasons are easy to identify. In other cases, information may need to be linked from sentence to sentence or across paragraphs. This process of synthesis cannot be undertaken without evaluating the ideas and concepts within the text.

Activity 1: inferring temporal relationships

Ask students to highlight the words in the text that show the order in which the events took place. Students then list the events that occurred in chronological order, and write a series of sentences that combine this information using conjunctions of time such as before, previously, after, subsequently, when, just as, although, while, or adverbs such as later, afterwards, then, at that juncture, ensuing, next.

Activity 2: inferring casual relationships

When causal words are not evident students will need to ask themselves why and how questions to be able to infer reasons for characters' actions and events that take place in texts. To find the answers have students in pairs highlight cohesive links such as pronouns, different names for the same person or object, collocation (words that go together or relate to each other) or other ways in which the ideas in the text are unified. Then ask the students to look at the text around those words to see whether one action is causing another or to think about what might be an unmentioned common factor causing the same happenings. Students will need to draw on personal experiences and be given any background knowledge which is outside their experiences.

References

Australian curriculum – ACELY1722: Interpreting, analysing, evaluating: Use prior knowledge and text processing strategies to interpret a range of types of texts.

NSW syllabus – EN4-2A: Use prior knowledge and text processing strategies to interpret a range of types of texts.

NSW literacy continuum – Comprehension, Cluster 14, Marker 4: Makes bridging inferences by linking pronouns, synonyms and other cohesive devices to clarify and build meaning.

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