Using Puzzles To Develop Inductive Reasoning Skills

Solving jigsaw puzzles develops inductive reasoning skills. By recognising patterns and visual clues, students learn to re-create order and reconstruct images.

Jigsaw Puzzles provide a rich resource for Visual Arts Teachers. The explanatory script at the end of a puzzle explains why. It says, “Solutions to puzzles may require recognizing patterns and creating a particular order. People with high inductive reasoning aptitude may be better at solving jigsaw puzzles than others.” 

Online Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw Puzzles online are different from traditional puzzles like those sold on, when used in an art class in some ways, including:

  • The user will often not know what the image is until they are at least partway through
  • They are available at any time at no cost (but the internet connection)
  • Tthere is no storage problem – one does not even need a disc
  • Students have a fresh new puzzle to attempt daily
  • There is an archive of puzzles so that students have access at convenient times with no expiry problems
  • You can save the link to favourite puzzles in the “Favourite” file of your browser
  • There is a clock on the puzzle so that students can challenge themselves against previous attempts
  • The class can have a contest to see who finishes puzzles the quickest
  • Each student in the class can have his copy to work on alone
  • They can work together if they choose – you can group them if you wish
  • The teacher can do the puzzle at the same time as the students
  • There is an explanation at the end of the puzzle – this can provide valuable historical information for the students
  • The teacher can bookmark particular puzzles if they are relevant to units students are working on
Inductive Reasoning

To do a puzzle without an image to follow is quite a challenge. Students will choose which visual clues to be guided by. These might be clues such as shape, texture and colour. They may be able to match up lines. Until participants work out what the image is, they will not use simple logical reasoning. (eg “this is the sun therefore, it must be up in the sky”)

The perceptual learning outcomes are more concrete; ask each person to keep a mental note of the clues they used to solve the puzzle. They might be clues like

1. grouping various kinds of textures together

2. assembling each patch first

3. later joining these patches together.

Or on the other hand, they may choose to follow one major line such as the horizon line, assembling the pieces to either side of it.

Appreciative Inquiry

Towards the end of the exercise, invite the students to talk about how they solved the inductive reasoning problems associated with assembling the picture. Some will say they completed the outer edge of the image first. This is a traditional way to get started on a jigsaw.

Jigsaw Puzzles are a handy resource for the classroom. They can be on tap for downtimes and many students would welcome time alone on a computer, when tasks are completed and they have deserved a reward.