Sunday, December 28, 2008

Social Studies Skill Inference notes -Political cartoons


What does it mean: To infer means to draw a conclusion about an issue by using information that is available to you and what you already know.

Inferring usually means to interpret the clues/details in the source by applying your contextual knowledge or what you already know about the subject.
Sometimes the question will need you to understand what the underlying message of the source is or the question may require you to give your reasoning why the author/cartoonist reacted in the way shown in the source.

How would I answer a source-based question that deals with the inferential skill?


1.) look for clues/details that you can find in the source.
2.) Use your contextual knowledge to interpret the source/or make sense of details in the source.
3.) Draw a conclusion about the source/infer the purpose of the author.

Some examples of inference questions:
  • What is the source telling you about....?
  • What is the author's view about....?
  • What is the cartoonist trying to say......?
  • Why did the author/cartoonist draw this source?
  • Why do you think the cartoonist portray the issue the way he does?
  • Do you think the author of the source supports/opposes...?
  • Does the source prove that..........?
    (These questions require you to do more than just infer the underlying meaning. You need to give the purpose of the author. You have to give the factors that influenced the author/cartoonist.)
What are the common source types you may see when having to answer this SBQ?
  • Newspaper Articles
  • Speeches
  • Oral interviews
  • Political cartoons
  • Photographs
  • Statistics
When you answer the question, remember to:
  • Look at the issue. Your answer to the question must be kept in line with the issue.
  • Understand what exactly you need to infer by underlining the key words in the question. As you infer, keep asking yourself if your inference relates to what is asked in the question.
  • Keep to the point. Do not provide an overview of the source or describe the cartoon or photograph(no marks are given)
  • When you state the purpose, keep in mind these 4 key words:
    W(Word), A(Action),O(outcome/Impact) S(Support)
What to look for in different types of source?

Text: Look for key words,phrases or quotes

Cartoon: Look for symbols (to represent something) and character's features (Caricatures), Size of Characters.tag-lines, Character's comments

Photographs: The photograph may appear to capture reality but it should not always be taken at face value because it should be part of a larger scene/context

Dealing with Political Cartoons
  • Political cartoons are found in a newspaper across the globe, and they are a powerful vehicle for swaying public opinion and criticising or praising political leaders.
  • Political cartoons are thought-provoking with the intention of informing the readers about issues. The views presented in the cartoons reflect the opinions of the cartoonists.
  • In the source, the text is used to describe and add meaning to the cartoon. Texts may contain elements of irony or satire.

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