Education has long been enamored with higher order or inference questions. While educators are correct in calling for numerous inferential items, they must realize that large doses of inferential items will not necessarily improve students' inference skills. especially for instructionally näive students. The problem occurs when the inference items assume knowledge and skills the students do not have; and yet, teacher guidance is not provided. For example, consider the inference item: "As the location of the subatomic particle becomes more precise, what would you infer about its momentum?" Or consider this example: "When John walked out onto the street, he nictitated rapidly." Where do you think John has been? These are inference items, but working many items similar to these would not improve an average adult's skill in drawing inferences. Similarly, exposing students, especially low-performing ones, to inference items is not sufficient. The items must be carefully selected and sequenced, and careful instruction must be provided. Students must know relevant vocabulary, assumed relationships,a nd how to draw inferences if practice exercises are to be helpful.
Direct Instruction Reading, 4th edition, p. 237, n.1.
I'm wondering what the readers' reactions are since the opinions seem to span the spectrum.