Generating & Testing Hypotheses


Although commonly associated with science, the practice of generating and testing hypotheses involves the application or use of knowledge in any field. In its simplest form, it is a matter of asking, "If I do this, what might happen?" or saying "Now that I've made this prediction, how accurate did it turn out to be?" Generating and testing hypotheses is an instructional strategy that requires students to apply their knowledge and to use higher-level thinking skills by asking questions about what they know, finding ways to test those questions, and then explaining their conclusions.

Hypothesis generation and testing can be approached in either an inductive or deductive manner. In general, however, students produce better results when using the deductive thinking process where they apply current knowledge to make a prediction about a future action or event.

This strategy can be used in all sorts of teaching situations. For instance, a language arts teacher might be leading students through reading a novel and ask them to predict what actions the character will take next based on what they have read so far. Then as they read more, they discuss the accuracy of their predictions. Another example is the social studies teacher who poses a a big question like “What would the world be like today if the Nazis had won World War II?” Students are then asked to predict and investigate the feasibility of their predictions in a persuasive essay. Research shows that asking students to explain their hypotheses and conclusions in a variety of communication modes enhances their learning.

Read and Reflect

  1. Read about Generating and Testing Hypotheses from the Northwest Educational Technology Consortium.
  2. Go to the Read and Reflect section on your Generating & Testing Hypotheses wiki page. Describe how you are currently implementing this strategy in your classroom with or without technology. Then share the new insights or ideas you gained from this reading.

Apply and Reflect

  1. Learn about Create A Graph and how it can be used for generating and testing hypotheses.
  2. Go to the Apply and Reflect section on your Generating & Testing Hypotheses wiki page. Show evidence that you completed the activity and share ways this tool is applicable to your curriculum.