Learning that takes place, not through instruction, but through examination, analysis, or experimentation.
See also inquiry.
The idea behind discovery learning is that people understand and remember concepts better when they have discovered them on their own. Discovery learning includes activities such as experimentation, data interpretation, interviews, and dissection. See the following examples:
- Experimentation: Students may learn through experimentation how the position of the fulcrum affects the force necessary to raise a given object using a lever.
- Data interpretation: Examining family trees showing which members have a disease will allow students to determine whether the allele causing the disease is recessive, dominant, or sex-linked.
- Interviews: Students can learn about integration by interviewing people in their community who remember when the schools were segregated.
- Dissection: Dissecting small branches will show students that only the green cambium layer of a tree is living and active in water and nutrient transport.
Discovery learning can overlap with inquiry learning. However, inquiry should include students generating questions they want to answer, whereas discovery need only involve answering questions. Direct instruction is usually used with discovery learning to introduce knowledge necessary for a discovery or reinforce ideas uncovered through discovery.
Examples and resources
Find a wide variety of articles about discovery learning in our article collection.
Numerous websites listing scientific experiments for students are compiled at the dmoz Open Directory Project.