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Above Image: Students predict the results of a science experiment © DragonImages, iStockphoto.com

Definition: The skill of predicting involves forecasting what is believed will occur in the future. Predictions should be based on student’s prior knowledge, experiences, observations and research.

Predicting is important because…

  • predictions are an important part of any inquiry
  • this skill supports the development of critical thinking skills by requiring students to draw upon their prior knowledge and experiences as well as observations to anticipate what will happen in an inquiry
  • it is interconnected with skills such as questioning, observing, reflecting, analyzing and making connections
  • predictions can lead to the development of hypotheses

Teaching and Learning Predicting:

Students

Educators

Become familiar with the concept of a “prediction”

Model the process of predicting out loud using modelling language such as, “my prediction is that …will happen when I mix these two liquids. What is your prediction?”

Make predictions before exploring and conducting inquiries

Students can explore without predicting, but predicting allows them to anticipate results and focus on what is happening. Talk with students before they explore about their predictions.

Make reasonable predictions about possible outcomes of explorations and inquiries

Help students to understand that some predictions are more reasonable than others given the circumstances, and discuss why some predictions are more reasonable than others.

Explain the reasoning and justification for their predictions

When students make predictions, ask “Why do you think that?” In addition to verbal responses, students can also write or compose predictions which include the reasoning and justification for their predictions.

Understand that people can have different predictions about the same event, exploration or inquiry question

Often when one student predicts something, other students predict the same thing. Encourage students to think for themselves and make predictions based on their own experiences, observations and opinions.

Understand that events may or may not occur as predicted

Students may feel disappointed if an event, exploration, or inquiry does not happen as predicted. Explain that not everything happens as we think, and that we learn from both our correct and incorrect predictions. Demonstrate this reality with some relevant examples of errors in predictions (e.g., tomato plants grown from the seeds that have been in space will glow as a result of exposure to radiation, etc.)

See: I Predict, Predict-Compare-Share and Prediction Guide learning strategies.