, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 407–422 | Cite as

The pedagogical value and the interdisciplinary nature of inductive processes in forming generalizations: Reflections from the classroom

  • Bharath Sriraman
  • Harry Adrian


The tendency to generalize from specific experiences leading to new, more abstract concepts is a natural aspect of human thought. Generalizations are the end result of an inductive process that begins with the identification of similarities in seemingly disparate situations. It is the existence of such generalizations that makes it possible for us to understand each other and the world around us. It is pedagogically weak to present generalizations to students and expect them to know how and when to apply them. On the other hand if students experience the inductive process in classrooms and discover generalizations, they are likely to remember and use this process when tackling other problems. The authors illustrate the pedagogical value of such an approach and the interdisciplinary nature of the inductive process by reflecting on teaching practices in English literature and mathematics in a high school classroom. In particular the authors reflect on how the inductive process was applied to four short stories and four problem-solving situations, which resulted in high school students arriving at generalizations that characterized the stories and the problems. A conceptual model that illustrates how inductive processes facilitate generalizations in the classroom is presented.


Classroom practice deduction educational theory generalization induction pedagogy reflection teacher education 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bharath Sriraman
    • 1
  • Harry Adrian
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Mathematical SciencesThe University of MontanaMissoulaU.S.A.
  2. 2.Ottawa Township High SchoolOttawa
  3. 3.c/o Bharath Sriraman Dept. of Mathematical SciencesThe University of MontanaMissoulaU.S.A.

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