Reading and Writing

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 489–503

Inference making ability and its relation to comprehension failure in young children

  • Kate Cain
  • Jane V. Oakhill

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008084120205

Cite this article as:
Cain, K. & Oakhill, J.V. Reading and Writing (1999) 11: 489. doi:10.1023/A:1008084120205


Young children's reading comprehension skill is associated with their ability to draw inferences (Oakhill 1982, 1984). An experiment was conducted to investigate the direction of this relation and to explore possible sources of inferential failure. Three groups of children participated: Same-age skilled and less skilled comprehenders, and a comprehension-age match group. The pattern of performance indicated that the ability to make inferences was not a by-product of good reading comprehension, rather that good inference skills are a plausible cause of good reading comprehension ability. Failure to make inferences could not be attributed to lack of relevant general knowledge. Instead, the pattern of errors indicated that differences in reading strategy were the most likely source of these group differences.

Causal relations General knowledge Inference making ability Reading comprehension Young children 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Cain
    • 1
  • Jane V. Oakhill
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of SussexUK