Discovery learning is applied in the development of instructional systems that causes all students to think and work more creatively and have a greater role in their own learning. Students are encourage to explore their learning environments and actively participate. The purpose of discovery learning in the classroom is to give students a foundation in which to learn by. Discovery learning is not about the information learned but about the processes an individual uses to teach them self.
Discovery learning is just as much about the teacher as it is the student. The teacher becomes a facilitator of inquiry rather than an encyclopedia of regurgitated facts.
Here are some classroom scenarios in which discovery learning is being used in current educational systems.
Kathy Stone uses guided discovery to help her third-grade children learn animal groups. Rather than providing students with the basic animal groups and examples for each, she asks students to provide the names and types of animals. Then she helps students classify the animals by examining their similarities and differences. Category labels are assigned once classifications are made. This approach is guided to ensure that classifications are proper, but students are active contributors as they discover the similarities and differences among animals (Schunk, 2004).
A high school chemistry teacher might use "mystery" liquids and have students discover the elements in each. The students could proceed through a series of experiments designed to determine if certain substances are present in a sample. BY using the experimental process, students learn about the reaction of various substances to certain chemicals and also how to determine the contents of their mystery substance (Schunk, 2004).
Gina Brown create three different classroom scenarios that describe situations involving student learning and behaviors as well as teacher actions. Dr. Brown divides her educational psychology students into pairs and she asks them to work through each scenario and discover which learning theories best describe the situations present (Schunk, 2004) Dr. Brown is using discovery theory, a learning theory, to get her students to arrive at conclusions about other learning theories.
For a visual representation of the discovery method, please click on the link below to watch three short video clips of discovery learning in the classroom.