What’s the Difference between Inferring and Drawing Conclusions?
Both these strategies require the reader to use text clues to make an assumption. An inference is an educated guess about what’s going on in the text. For example, if we read that the girl's face turned red, we may infer that she is embarrassed. But she could also be angry or hot. It all depends upon what is happening in the story. Authors gives us clues to help us make inferences about characters. These text clues include actions, dialogue, and inner thoughts. We also make inferences to determine the meaning of an unknown word. For instance, a reader may not know the meaning of the word “cling,” but upon reading the sentence, “The starfish is clinging to the rock,” he or she may infer that clinging means to hold on.
Drawing a conclusion, however, is using text clues and background knowledge to predict the logical next step. We might logically conclude that the girl with a red face is going to cry (or stomp out of the room, or remove her heavy coat, etc.). Our conclusions must be logical and based on text evidence.
When I explain these to strategies to children, I say, “Inferring is thinking backwards and asking yourself, ‘Why did the character do (or say) that?’ When you draw a conclusion, you are thinking forward and asking, ‘Based on the text and what I already know, what will happen next?’”