The Discovery Method is not without potential problems
We don’t always have time to “discover” in tutoring or a classroom setting. If we are confined to hard time-limits, discovery can be an exercise in frustration. It is hard to say “Okay, but we have to hurry up” in discovery learning.
There are limits on how difficult or challenging the “discovery” should be. Building a jigsaw puzzle without a picture to look at can be very frustrating and/or very time consuming. As Ausubel has asserted, knowing what our learners know and building on that is vital. What is reasonable for our learners, when is it relevant and how best to explore learning?
It is possible that discovery learning can become chaos. Or it can be inappropriate for the learners you have. The key to this method is pre-planning… Ask: “Will this method take us to the learning goal in the anticipated time we will have?”
In your pre-planning, you might ask yourself:
- What are the basic objectives of this activity? What do we want to achieve?
- How much time will there be? Can we do this in the given time?
- Who is the learner (or learners) and what types of discovery will be best?
Bruner, J. (1965). In defense of verbal learning. In R.C. Anderson & D.P. Ausubel (Eds.), Readings in the psychology of cognition (pp. 87-102). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Fingeret, H., & Jurmo, P. (Eds.). (1989). Participatory literacy education. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 42. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15360717/1989/1989/42
Knowles, M.S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Quigley, A. (2006). Building professional pride in literacy: A dialogical guide to professional development. Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing.
Wlodkowski, R. (1999). Enhancing adult motivation to learn: A comprehensive guide for teaching all adults (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.