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Report: Inductive Reasoning

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning

Notes

Making an argument based on evidenc or facts

Reasoning from evidence is most commonly used in science. It includes the following process:

  • Problen: state and explain a problem
  • Dependent variable: a hypothesis
  • Independent variables: possible solutions
  • Replication: repeat the experiment keeping the variables constant
  • Generalization: the conclusion drawn from the results of the experiment
  • Prediction: suggest what might happen when some of the variables are changed. This can lead to new questions or a new hypothesis that needs to be tested.

Inductive reasoning refers to reasoning from evidence. This kind of reasoning focuses on the relationship between dependent and independent variables in order to arrive a varifiable generalization. Inductive reasoning frequently includes making predictions based on generalizations.

Inductive reasoning is used informally by people in every day life experiences. For example, concluding that a teller at the bank is in a bad mood by observing that she has a frown on her face and fails to greet customers is a form of deductive reasoning.  However, there could be many reasons for the observed behavior besides the conclusion that she is in a bad mood. When only a few facts are observed, one might say that a person is jumping to conclusions rather than engaging in inductive reasoning.

Reasoning from evidence is most commonly used in preparing scientific reports. Read the following sample.

Sample

Monitoring Temperature Changes

Some doubt has been cast recently by a few scientists on the long-standing procedures used to collect world temperature data in past 100 years. Objections have been raised about the use of thermometers located at ground level near cities to monitor global temperatures. This method does not monitor the temperature in many areas of the world. For example, would remote areas of the earth’s surface reflect the same temperature changes as have been recorded over land surfaces near cities?

The objections have been based on the assumption that different surfaces of the earth such as land, water and forests might respond differently to the sun. Some surfaces might generate more heat than others and therefore increase the temperature of the atmosphere. These assumptions most be confirmed or refued in response to the critics. If all the different surfaces of the earth reflect the same amount of heat, then the temperature data recorded over land would be the same as the temperature over water and forests.

Method

Three experiments will be conducted. Experiment A will involve a pan of water; experiment B a pan of black soil; and experiment C a pan of soil covered with leafy plants. The pans are of equal size. Each pan is placed in a closed paper box 18″ by 12″ by 12″. A thermometer is taped to the inside of each box. The front of the box is cut open and closed off with a glass pane. The boxes are places in sunlight in a location where the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius. The glass sides of the boxes face the sun for 120 minutes.

Results

Chart 1 shows the results of the experiment.

Experiment Start temperature Final temperature Difference
Experiment A

20* C

21.1* C

+1.1* C

Experiment B

20* C

23.7* C

+ 3.7* C

Experiment C 20* C

22.3* C

+2.3* C

Chart 1. Temperature recordings

The temperature in the boxes were the same at the beginning of the experiment but they were different from each other at the end of the experiment. Experiment B recorded the highest temperature increase. Experiment A recorded the lowest temperature increase. The temperature increase in Experiment C was in between A and C. In short, black soil exposed to sunlight generated more heat than the water and leafy plants exposed to sunlight. Water exposed to sunlight generated the least heat. Leafy plants exposed to sunlight generated less heat than black soil but more than water.

Discussion

Before any conclusions ar drawn from this set of experiments, they should be repeated several times. Other variables should be tested to determine whther they account for the differences in temperature changes in this experiment. If replicating the experiment generates the same constant results, then a generalization about the effect of sunlight on different surfaces can be formed.

The generalization sets the stage for conducting further experiments based on predictions stated in the form of a hypothesis. Slowly a knowledge base could be developed on the issue of global warming.

Template: Inductive reasoning

  • Problem: state and explain a problem

-          Objections have been raised about the use of thermometers located at ground level near cities to monitor global temperatures. This method does not monitor the temperature in many areas of the world.

  • Dependent variable: a hypothesis

-          Some surfaces might generate more heat than others and therefore increase the temperature of the atmosphere.

  • Independent variables: possible solutions

-          different surfaces of the earth such as land, water and forests might respond differently to the sun

  • Replication: repeat the experiment keeping the variables constant

-          This was recommended in the report

  • Generalization: the conclusion drawn from the results of the experiment

-          If replicating the experiment generates the same constant results, then a generalization about the effect of sunlight on different surfaces can be formed.

  • Prediction: suggest what might happen when some of the variables are changed. This can lead to new questions or a new hypothesis that needs to be tested.

-          Slowly a knowledge base can be developed on the issue of global warming.

Assignment

Writing Assignment

Conduct a controlled experiment and write a science report on the experiment and your results. Identify any generalizations that flow from your experiment. Explore some predictions based on the generalizations. Use the template for inductive reasoning to organize the information for your report.

Template: Inductive reasoning

  • Problem: state and explain a problem

-          _________________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________

  • Dependent variable: a hypothesis

-          ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Independent variables: possible solutions

-          ______________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________

  • Replication: repeat the experiment keeping the variables constant

-          __________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________

_____________________________________________

  • Generalization: the conclusion drawn from the results of the experiment

-          ___________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________

  • Prediction: suggest what might happen when some of the variables are changed. This can lead to new questions or a new hypothesis that needs to be tested.

-          _____________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________