, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 285-312

Reasoning in a reading context: Deductive inferences in basal reading series

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This study examined three basal reading programs published by Heath (1989), Silver Burdett Ginn (1993) and Houghton Mifflin (1993), to determine how frequently logically necessary relationships are expressed in text used by basal readers, and whether direct instruction in making logically necessary inferences accompanies such expressions in basal reader series. The complete contents of the basal readers, from grades one through eight, and all teachers' instructions pertaining to content read by students, were examined for each series. Frequency counts made by independent raters indicated that readers of these three series have a steady and frequent rate of opportunities to make logically necessary inferences, and to observe such inferences being modeled by the text; no significant differences were found between any of the series in the number of such opportunities. We found that while children's reading materials clearly offer a natural context in which logical understanding may be constructed, instructions for teachers in the basal series we examined did not include directly teaching students to use this kind of reasoning in reading comprehension. Suggestions are offered for how such instruction might be integrated with current teaching strategies in inference-making.