Guided Discovery Problems

Guided Discovery Problems Overview

Guided discovery encourages students’ natural curiosity and inquisitiveness.  Carefully constructed puzzles, problems, and questions push students to go beyond facts to discovery of principles in solving problems. 

Discovery learning is an inquiry-based instructional technique where students ‘learn by doing.’  Jerome Bruner, a renowned cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, promoted the approach on the basis that students are more likely to remember concepts and principles when they discover them on their own.  Guided discovery problems may precede introduction of relevant content, allowing students to begin building their knowledge of the subject before class discussion. 

For example, in one example of a guided discovery problem on the phases and eclipses of the moon, students confront potential misconceptions about the moon’s movements around the earth. Using a polystyrene ball and a light source, many students are surprised to find that the moon’s phases are not caused by Earth's shadow.

Whether students collaborate or proceed individually, they are developing skills in disciplined inquiry fundamental to many areas of knowledge, and particularly to the sciences.   As online learning grows, games of discovery will likely grow as well, bringing more sophisticated resources and real world challenges to guided discovery learning activities.  

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