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What Is Inductive Reasoning?

In general, reasoning involves evaluating information and generating logical arguments. To do this, physical, pictorial or linguistic symbols have to be manipulated cognitively. Two main forms of reasoning may be identified: inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.

Inductive reasoning involves people working out what hypothesis may be abstracted from a particular set of observations. It therefore proceeds from the specific to the more general. One of the hallmarks of inductive reasoning is that it occurs in an open system, in the absence of full information. Inductive reasoning has two aspects: hypothesis formulation and hypothesis evaluation. An example of the kind of work that has been done on inductive reasoning is a study by Kotovsky and Simon that looked at our ability to discover patterns in sequences of letters or numbers. For example, consider the letter sequences ABBA, CDDC, E---. What letters are needed to complete the sequence? The answer is FFE. Similarly, consider the number sequences 1221, 3443, 5---. The numbers that will complete the sequence are 665. In both examples, inductive reasoning was needed to formulate the correct answer. In addition, one can induce that, in both instances, the same formal rule — initial item (letter or number), next item in the logical sequence, repetition of this item, return to the original item — can be used to form the correct solution.

The Compublox program contains two exercises to teach inductive reasoning. One consists of sequences of blocks that must be completed, which have been carefully graded and gradually become more and more challenging. Watch the video:

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