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Discovery methods and inductive methods

Page history last edited by Kimberly 14 years, 1 month ago

Mayer, R. E. (2008). Discovery methods and inductive methods. In Learning and instruction (2nd ed., pp. 307-325). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.


Mayer’s book, Learning and instruction, is an excellent resource in theories of education and their application in a variety of educational settings. The generality of the book, however, can also be a weakness to the reader who is interested in learning how to apply educational theories to a specific type of teaching. Here, I review a specific part of the book that is applicable in the niche of education where I hope to one day make my living (college teaching).


Discovery and inductive methods of learning are both “meaningful methods” (p. 324) of instruction. In both cases, students are given a task BEFORE they are provided with the rule/ theory that would aid them in completing the task. For example (in psychology), students could FIRST be asked to evaluate the chance that a driver would pull over to help someone stranded by the side of the road, what conditions would increase/ decrease the likelihood that someone would pull over to help, and why certain conditions effect the likelihood that people would help. THEN they would be exposed to research on the “Bystander effect.” Mayer considers these methods meaningful because they generate a need for the rule/theory before it’s introduced, this providing the rule/theory with a meaning (e.g., understanding the bystander effect help us to predict when someone will help or ignore others in distress). Mayer presents evidence that teaching in this fashion helps students integrate the rule/theory into their existing knowledge, and helps with later transfer of knowledge to novel situations.


My only criticism of this section of his book is that Mayer introduces discovery methods and inductive methods separately and does not discuss the substantial overlap between the two methods. Overall, however, this is a good resource to help instructors design empirically supported inductive or discovery oriented activities for their students.


Created by Andrew Kerlow-Myers on 11/29/08 Andrewkerlowmyers@gmail.com


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