School Psychology

Fluid Reasoning

June 29, 2017

The next processing area we are going to learn about is Fluid Reasoning.  Along with comprehension knowledge, this area is often thought of as one of the most important processing areas of our cognitive abilities.

So what is fluid reasoning? 

It is our ability to be a flexible thinker and problem solver.  When we think of general intelligence these are often the skills we are considering.  Fluid reasoning involves the mental abilities we use when faced with a novel task that we do not know how to automatically solve.

What can a deficit in fluid reasoning look like?

If a student struggles in this area, they will likely struggle with reasoning, understanding instruction and directions, generalizing previously learned information, and solving new problems.  A weakness in fluid reasoning can harm the ability to understand relationships and to make connections between background knowledge and new information. These students may struggle to see the big picture and to be a good problem solver.  It can lead to an impairment in understanding others’ opinions and comprehending how things work.

How does it impact the major academic areas? 

Students with a weakness in fluid reasoning will struggle to come to conclusions when reading.  It will negatively impact their reading comprehension skills. In math, these students will struggle to tackle math word problems due to multiple steps.  In writing, organizing and sequencing out their thoughts will be a struggle.  Their difficulty with comprehension may negatively impact their ability to express their thoughts in writing.

How can we support these students in the classroom? 

These students need explicit instruction on multiple strategies to solve problems.  Clearly defining the relationship or connection between two aspects in a concrete manner is essential.  Allow these students to sort information into categories.  When you demonstrate skills, clearly state your thought process and model how to complete the steps.  Next, allow the student to practice the procedure and give them feedback. Graphic organizers can help students understand the whole and how to break into down into its parts.  Pair visual and verbal information to ensure their learning opportunity is enhanced.  Break their work up into small manageable steps so they do not get overwhelmed.  When giving the student independent work, make sure they have a few examples to help guide them.

Hopefully, this brief introduction to fluid reasoning will help you problem solve more fluidly for your students who may struggle with this processing area.

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