Ladder of Inference

Overview: This section includes strategies for developing lessons that focus on the use of the ladder of inference as a tool for stimulating conversation about literature, history, science, math, or other topics.

Lesson Objectives

Curriculum Context

Systems Thinking Concepts

  • Students will be able to explain the ladder of inference. 

  • Students will be able to describe a scenario in relationship to the steps of the ladder of inference 

  • Students will be able to explain why it is important to understand the human tendency to “climb the ladder”. 

  • Students will be able to explain why it is important to test perceptions by checking for data, evidence, etc.

Lessons exploring the mental models held by the writer of a story or novel, the creators of a government policy, the designers of a structure, the decisions made by an individual or group, etc. are appropriate contexts for the ladder of inference.

  • Mental models



Systems Thinking Tool(s)

  • Schools That Learn (ISBN 0-385-49323-1)
  • 60-180 minutes for initial lesson, possible application throughout the school year.

  • Ladder of Inference

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