Ask Susan: Strategies to Improve Inferential Comprehension


I am looking for an online tutor to help with inferential comprehension, which is an area of weakness for my son Adam. He struggles to generate comprehension answers that require him to go beyond presented text in standardized assessments and in classroom functioning. My question is: What are some tools/strategies you will use to strengthen his inferential comprehension while his working memory is weak?


Hi Charlotte

Thank you for your question.  

Just for the benefit of other readers, I will first explain what inferential comprehension is. Inferential comprehension is the ability to process written information and understand the underlying meaning of the text. This information is then used to infer or determine deeper meaning that is not explicitly stated. It is a higher order thinking skill that involves linking prior knowledge to new information to make meaning; and requires readers to combine ideas, draw conclusions, as well as interpret and evaluate information.

To successfully intervene in any form of learning difficulty, including poor inferential comprehension, there are three fundamental learning principles to keep in mind:    

1.) Learning is a stratified process, which means there are certain skills that need to be mastered before subsequent skills can be learned. Memory, including working memory, and logical reasoning are foundational skills of inferential comprehension. To improve Adam’s memory, including his working memory, as well as his reasoning ability I recommend Edublox’s program Development Tutor.

Adam will need to do 4-5 sessions per week. Each session consists of three exercises, which takes 20-25 minutes to complete. He must always work on a clean desk, with the exception of the logical thinking exercise where he may use any tool (colored blocks, pen and paper) to get to an answer.

2.) Repetition is vital to successfully learn and master new skills and knowledge. I am currently writing an article series on dyslexia (it lends towards being academic), and have already compeleted the part on repetition. You are welcome to read it here.

3.) There must be application of lower order skills to higher order skills, which means that Adam will need to do actual comprehension exercises. It is this part of the intervention which is best done through live tutoring. We will be working on higher order skills, such as the ability to integrate new knowledge with foreknowledge, classification and closure. Two 30-minute sessions per week would most likely be sufficient, but this is best discussed through a free consultation, which you can book here.



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More about Susan

Susan is an educational specialist in the field of learning problems and dyslexia and has a B.A. Honors in Psychology and B.D. degree from the University of Pretoria. Early in her professional career Susan was instrumental in training over 3,000 teachers and tutors, providing them with the foundational and practical understanding to facilitate cognitive development amongst children who struggle to read and write. With over 25 years of research to her name Susan conceptualized the Edublox teaching and learning methods that have helped thousands of children who were struggling academically to read, learn and achieve. In 2007, Susan opened the first Edublox reading and learning clinic and now there are 40 Edublox clinics internationally. Her proudest moments are when she sees a child who had severe learning difficulties come top of their class after one or two years at Edublox. Susan always takes time to collect the ‘hero’ stories of learners whose self-esteem is lifted as their marks improve.