Published on 2012/05/29
Static instruction does not achieve behavior change or great knowledge acquisition. Discovery must be brought into the teaching process in order for real learning to occur. Photo by Cherry Sweet Deal.

Learners have the capacity to learn a myriad of things by the instructional design and instructional strategies but these must be stimulating and engaging, as well. Today’s learners are exposed to many avenues to learn many things from their environment  so they are no longer coming to the learning environment as passive receptacles to be poured into, but to partner with the facilitator as a part of the normal course of their learning. In fact, given the many informal learning opportunities learners have had through varied technological tools, they are coming to the learning environment with a command of the content, and may even have a greater command of some content than the facilitator that is why there is such a great need for partnering in the teaching and learning process to best achieve the learning outcomes.

Static instruction is just that, static. It is not challenging or enjoining, thus it will not result in changing the learners’ behavior, heighten skill transfer or increase critical thinking skill development. For learning to be meaningful it must have relevance and allow learners time to explore the processes and systems involved for it to be remembered and practiced for enhance knowledge transfer into some future learning or work context. Bruner’s discovery learning seems to fit this paradigm.

Discovery learning is about inquiry; learners are not given answers, but are encouraged to explore and find those answers themselves. When a learner finds an answer independently, this becomes a major avenue for self-motivation which can be pivotal in facilitating future learning. Learners are primed for self-directed learning and to take advantage of life-long learning opportunities. Discovery learning is useful in teaching math, science, art, social skills, literature, social studies, change, leadership, and sensitivity towards differences among other workplace and other kind of learning. Still, the usefulness of discovery learning must be supported by outcome markers to really assess if learning is really taking place, hence it is important to evaluate and benchmark what learners have discovered with some preexisting outcome measures. Also, one size does not fit all, so some learners make have a shorter learning curve than other learners, thus requiring initial support for a self-directed modality to work, especially discovery learning approaches.

Discovery learning is suitable as an instructional development approach with some other support given the flexible in the model for structuring discovery activities. This kind of learning is developed around learners characteristics, establishing suitable learning objectives supported by the discovery process, incorporating multiple discovery systems, equipping facilitated to support such exploratory learning and providing multiple avenues for evaluation and skill transfer. No theory is without challenges, so the demits of discovery learning theory can be mitigated by incorporating suitable offset strategies.

Self-discovery is a form of discovery learning and can be a powerful way of learning about the self and others though varied engagements. It doesn’t matter how good a brain one has, or handsome or beautiful one is, what is clear is that having those attributes does nothing for that person without validation from the environment, which support the nurture argument. We all get validation from other – good, bad or indifferent and it that validation that tells us to some degree who we are in a specific context. Children know who they are from birth because of something their parent affirms in them through various interactions. They then benchmark what their parents told them or taught them with different societal influences and it is those kinds of interchanges that give a person definition. I can go on, but it is not what one is born with that decides who they become; it’s what you do with those attributes that is nurtured and affirmed that confirm the discovery learning and the meaning ascribe by the knower of those findings. Therefore, self-discovery is a fitting content for using discovery learning modality.

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