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Literacy 7-12

Systems Change

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Reasoning is the cognitive ability that allows us to notice similarities and relationships across contexts. Reasoning skills help us create and justify arguments, generate inferences, and create figurative language -- core components of adolescent literacy skills.

Main Ideas:

Reasoning can help us to think abstractly about language and verbal concepts as well as non-verbal concepts, such as patterns.

  • Non-Verbal Reasoning, also called fluid reasoning or fluid intelligence, is used to think about and apply logic in new situations. This is in contrast to crystallized intelligence, which is used to directly retrieve and apply specific learned knowledge or skills.
  • Verbal Reasoning, or analogical reasoning, is the ability to perceive relational similarities between two verbalizable ideas or events and apply them in new contexts. For example, describing a place as "a zoo" to express how busy and crowded it is. This skill develops along with an increase in Vocabulary and Background Knowledge. It also requires the ability to ignore irrelevant information (e.g., the literal animals that make up a zoo) and focus on the key shared structures and relationships (e.g., the busy environment) to generate inferences.

Reasoning skills begin to emerge during the first years of life, develop rapidly during childhood, and are still becoming refined throughout adolescence. Reasoning can be used to help conceptualize more complex ideas, supporting learning across disciplines, but also is a key learning outcome, bolstered by Argumentative Reasoning and Inferencing.

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