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Deductive and Inductive Reasoning Essay

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Updated: Dec 17th, 2019


There are different types of reasoning most of which are explained in psychology books and texts. This paper discusses two types of reasoning – deductive and inductive reasoning. The paper utilizes cognitive research to discuss given cases of these two types of reasoning. The paper focuses on the teaching of science and technical courses in High Schools. It explores cases of science and mathematical teaching in schools.

Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is a logical process where conclusions are made form general cases. General cases are studied after which conclusions are made as it applies to a certain case (Rips, 1994). Argument from analogy is one of the examples under deductive reasoning. The rule underlying this module is that in the case where P and Q are similar and have properties a, b and c; object P has an extra property “x”. Therefore, Q will automatically have the same extra property “x” as the two are similar (Dancy, 1994).

Most high school students in the United States do come across the argument from analogy model of deductive reasoning while studying science subjects. Nonetheless, most students do not realize the applicability of this rule. They apply the rule unconsciously. Therefore, high school students should learn about this model of reasoning. This will help them know certain instances under which they should apply this rule when making arguments in science subjects (Singer, Hilton & Schweingruber, 2006).

Researches conducted on analogies give a clear way of explaining why student reports have added ideas. While studying scientific subjects, students do make productive analogies. They apply scientific principles for instance energy conservation principles to different settings.

Unproductive analogies are also made by students; for example, in experiments between temperature and heat. Research which compare different forms of analogies gain from visual and animated representations. Such studies distinguish the functions of different brain parts. It emphasizes the benefits of activating correct pathways for specific learning forms. Research on analogies emphasizes on the selection and inclusion of right analogies in the reports. It also encourages the analysis of different analogies (Alexander & Winne, 2006).

Argument from analogy is one of the tools that students can use to advance reasonable arguments in different science subjects. This is according to a study that was conducted to ascertain the model that can be used by high school students in when solving problems in genetics. Different questions and student teacher engagements were used to reach the conclusion (Jimez-Aleixandre & Rodriguez, 2000).

The major problems in the teaching of science subjects are the lapses in communication. More often, students and teachers in science classrooms rarely share similar purpose on either the subject or the activity (Kaplan & McCune, 2011). At times, teachers and students assign different meanings to the same concept. This happens in cases where the two have different levels of understanding about the science concepts because most of these concepts are technical (Jimez-Aleixandre & Rodriguez, 2000).

In order to improve the understanding of science subjects, students are required to use different approaches. For students to use analogy, they must have an understanding of the concept in question first. The concept is the most important thing as arguments derived from the subject will be concrete when the concept is well grasped.

More models should be used by science teachers in the science classes. The real nature of the models or analogs used for teaching are better understood when they are realistic. Analogs are forms of human interventions in learning. They should be used carefully as poor use may result in mal understanding of the real meaning. Analogs have an aspect of practicality which leaves images in the minds of students.

When used well, a constructive learning environment will be attained. Analogies should be used in a way which students can easily capture or map. Students should also be given room to make suggestions of improving the analogies used by their teachers. Imperfect analogies expose difficulties that arise in describing and explaining scientific ideas that are mostly of an abstract nature (Harrison & Coll, 2008).

Inductive Reasoning

According to Holland (1989), inductive reasoning entails taking certain examples and using the examples to develop a general principle. It cannot be utilized in proving a concept. In inductive reasoning, solutions to problems can be reached even when the person offering the solution does not have general knowledge about the world.

An example of deductive reasoning is the case of ‘Rex the dog’. In this case, a child can make a deduction that is logical when Rex barks even at times when barking itself is an unfamiliar activity. If the child was told that Rex is a cat and that all cats bark, the child would respond with a “yes” when asked whether Rex barks. This is even when Rex does not bark. Under this reasoning, logical deductions are counterfactual in that they are not made in line with the beliefs of the real world (Feeney & Heit, 2007).

Inductive reasoning is one of the oldest models of learning. Inductive reasoning develops with time as students develop. However, this reasoning has not been fully utilized in schools. It carries many cognitive skills within it. Inductive thinking is used in creative arts in high schools. In creative art subjects, students are expected to build on the ideas that they have learnt. The knowledge learnt is applied in different contexts. This is the real goal of inductive reasoning (Csapó, 1997).

Research has revealed that deductive reasoning can be applied in two contexts of performance. This includes the school knowledge application and the applicable knowledge context. School knowledge it the knowledge that is acquired at school. This knowledge is mostly applied in situations that are related to school work.

It is applied in a similar context in which it was acquired. This knowledge or reasoning is what the students apply in handling assignments, tests and examinations in school. It is what is used to grade students and determines student career in schools. Applicable knowledge is that knowledge that can be easily applied in situations that differ with the context in which the knowledge was acquired (Csapó, 1997).

A research that was conducted in the United States revealed that the skills that are acquired by students at the elementary level are insufficient. Elementary mathematics teaching lacks a conceptual explanation to the students. When these students get to high school, they need a basis upon which they can understand mathematical formulas as well as measurements. Therefore, teachers are forced to introduce these students to a higher level of thinking.

The tasks in high school mathematics which requires deep thinking are also called high cognitive demand tasks. At this level of thinking, students can understand the complex mathematical concepts and apply them correctly. Thus, students are introduced to inductive reasoning (Beckmann, Thompson & Rubenstein, 2010).

Students will mostly have a tough time at the introductory times to the inductive reasoning. Students will get a grasp of concepts mostly mathematical concepts. However, it will take the students longer for students to develop application skills. Mathematical concepts will be understood by students within a short span.

However, applying the concepts to solve different mathematical problems is another problem. Just like for the two types of knowledge, it has always been hard for students from high school to apply the school concept in the real world. Students acquire the knowledge, but they in most cases reserve the knowledge for schoolwork only.

When students do not get good tutoring, it becomes difficult to gain the transition that is required in gaining the real concepts. This further destructs them and may even cause a total failure to understand and apply inductive reasoning (Ifenthaler & Seel, 2011).

The transition from elementary school to high school includes psychological changes. These changes need to be molded by introducing the student to thinking that is detailed. This is a gradual process which begins with slowly ushering of the students to simple concepts. This simple concept builds slowly, and complexity is introduced gradually.

The minds of the students grow as they get used to the hard concepts. Later, the students become more creative and critical in their thinking and understanding of concepts Rhodes, Gelman & Brickman, 2008).


Inductive and deductive reasoning are two types of reasoning that borrows from one another. The use of logical conclusion applies in both of them. They are very useful more so in teaching mathematics and science courses.

Reference list

Alexander, P.A. & Winne, P.H. (2006). Handbook of Educational Psychology. Second Edition. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associations Inc., Publishers.

Beckmann, C.E., Thompson, D.R. & Rubenstein, R.N. (2010).Teaching and learning high school mathematics. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Csapó, B. (1997). The Development of Inductive Reasoning: Cross-sectional Assessments in an Educational Context. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 20 (4), 609–626

Dancy, J. (1994). An introduction to contemporary epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Feeney, A. & Heit, E. (2007). Inductive reasoning: Experimental, developmental, and computational approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Harrison, A.G. & Coll, R.K. (2008). Using analogies in middle and secondary science classrooms: The FAR guide–an interesting way to teach with analogies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Holland, J.H. (1989). Induction: Processes of inference, learning, and discovery. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ifenthaler, D. & Seel, N.M. (2011). A longitudinal perspective on inductive reasoning tasks. Illuminating the probability of change. Learning & Instruction, 21(4), 538-549.

Jimez-Aleixandre, M. & Rodriguez, A. (2000). Doing the Lesson’ or ‘Doing Science: Argument in High School Genetics. Science Education, 84(6), 757.

Kaplan, J.S., & McCune, S.L. (2011). Cliffsnotes Ftce General Knowledge Test. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Rhodes, M., Gelman, S.A. & Brickman, D. (2008). Developmental Changes in the Consideration of Sample Diversity in Inductive Reasoning. Journal of Cognition & Development, 9(1), 112-143.

Rips, L.J. (1994). The psychology of proof: Deductive reasoning in human thinking. Cambridge, Mass. u.a: MIT Press.

Singer, S.R., Hilton, M.L., & Schweingruber, H.A. (2006). America’s lab report: Investigations in high school science. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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