Everyone Heard the Scream – Reason Meets Murder Mystery
This murder mystery is one of the most engaging ways I have found to introduce and work with deductive and inductive reasoning. Special thanks to my fantastic colleague Rebekah Madrid for pointing this activity out to me and much appreciation to the person who developed it initially. As with many things that get passed along the originator’s name has been lost. If you know who it was that created this activity please post their name below so I can give credit where credit is due.
As a way to introduce Reason to students, use this fun and interactive Murder Mystery role-play. Even though we use reason all the time in our daily lives, it is sometimes difficult for students to recognize this. This role-play will act as a springboard for further more in-depth conversations about reason, its applications and limitations. The ideal time for the activity is 90 min, but can be done in 65 min with tight time management.
- To introduce ideas of deductive and inductive reasoning in a practical and hands-on way
- Cut out all the character briefs from this document. On the reverse side, paste the background information. There are 19 characters here – some are significant, others less so. Remove characters if you have fewer students (possible characters to remove include (Janice Carroll, Tariq Ali, Judy Hall, Stephanie Ngeti, Fatma Mohamed, Sabrina Paroo, Sarah Chan)
- Arrange classroom to enable ease of discussion. Give each student a character and name tag (have them write their character names on the name tags). Ask them to memorize roles. Encourage them to get into character – it is more fun that way. Collect character profiles. Hand out the worksheet for them to track their interactions with each other.
- Give them 20-25 min to interview each other and ascertain the ‘facts’.
- When seated back at their desks and out of character, give them 20 min as a group to agree on who the murder is and what their motive was (more challenging). Have them present their case, then present solution.
- Debrief: Have students write two ways in which they used reason during the exercise. If they can classify whether they used inductive or deductive reasoning, it is better. They should be familiar with the terms, depending on which units preceded this topic. Have students share a few answers. In general, the process of arriving at the murderer is through deductive reasoning. (e.g. Edward Bush was not in his office when he said he was, others saw him argue, others have a reliable alibi, therefore it was Edward Bush). The process of arriving at the motive is more challenging and requires inferences to be made. Generally, this process can be inductive.
Examples of Deductive and Inductive Reasoning (from P.J.)
During a school reunion a scream is heard from one of the classrooms. It’s 8:30 pm. A few minutes later the dead body of Miss Grace Oyugi, a cranky old English teacher, is found. She has been hit on the head. Also found were a number of items that may lead us to the killer: a book written by one of her ex-students, Peter Ndungu, a photograph of one of her fellow teachers, a young man called Paul James, and a handkerchief with the initials P.P. At the moment these are the three main suspects but everyone who was at the party and saw or spoke to Miss Oyugi needs to be questioned.
Write an example for each of how Inductive Reasoning and Deductive Reasoning were used during this murder mystery. Based on this activity indicate your thoughts regarding the certainty of claims made through a process of deduction vs induction. Does either seem more likely than the other to result in greater certainty?