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Ali Gunay Balim's journal article, "The effects of discovery learning on students' success and inquiry learning skills" provides empirical evidence that attest to the virtue of guided discovery learning. The research performed in this article divided 57 seventh graders into science classes in which one group was taught using guided discovery learning techniques and the other was taught using conventional methods for instruction. The primary basis for the data was the usage of a pretest and a post-test; each group took the pretest without having any exposure to guided discovery learning. During the posttest, the control group still had no experience with this method of instruction, whereas the other group had four weeks' worth of this type of instruction. The statistical data overwhelmingly supported the virtues of guided discovery-based instruction. With a t-value of 9.76, the experimental group -- taught using discovery instruction that was guided -- consistently performed higher at a median score of 14.84, versus that of the control which had a median score of 9.95. Accordingly, there was a "significant difference between the control and the experimental groups and the activities, which are prepared consistently with the discovery learning method, and have positive effects upon the success of students" (Balim, 2009, p. 9).
It is fairly noteworthy to point out what exactly it is about guided discovery-based instruction that renders it more beneficial than unstructured discovery learning, and which is alluded to in the statistical evidence that places conventional instruction-based learning as more beneficial than unstructured discovery-based learning in the first of the two meta-analyses in the article by Alfieri et al. Due to the level of autonomy that students have during unstructured discovery learning, there is a higher likelihood of students erroneously reaching conclusions due to methods which are not supported by solid facts (Alfieri et al., 2011). The boon of this pedagogical methodology is that students are allowed to feel some of the joy of discovery. However, there is also a very real possibility that students may experience other feelings related to wrong answers or lack of progress including confusion, frustration, or what may be even worse -- reaching incorrect answers.
Moreover, the very basis of discovery learning is intrinsically rooted within conventional instruction or within guided discovery learning. Even in unstructured discovery-based learning, teachers give students some form of an example which they are usually told to discover the principles of themselves. Without any instruction whatsoever, students would not have a place to begin. This concept is merely extended and emphasize in guided discovery-based learning, in which pedagogues enable students to learn more about the process for learning via traditional instruction, while still allowing them to ultimately seek answers on their own. Whereas at least three different articles have been cited within this document attesting to the efficacy of guided discovery-based learning and its "cousin" of sorts, conventional instruction, a review of literature within this area reveals that "Today's research, like that of Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006) reports that there is little empirical evidence to support pure discovery learning" (Hauptli, 2011).
What there is empirical evidence to demonstrate, however, is the converse of the preceding statement, which is that the opposite of "pure discovery learning" guided discovery-based learning, is supported by empirical evidence. The studies and comparisons in the research of Alfieri et al. demonstrate this fact, as do that found in the articles of Balim and Flores and Kaylor. These studies allude to the ultimate benefit of guided discovery-based learning, which is based on the fact that it allows students to benefit from the skill and experience of an instructor as well as from the joy of a tailored, nurtured process of discovery.
Alfieri, L., Brooks, P.B., Aldrich, N.J., Tenenbaum, H.R. (2011). "Does discovery-based instruction enhance learning?." American Psychological Association. 103 (1): 1-18. Retrieved from http://www.societyforqualityeducation.org/parents/constructivism.pdf
Balim, a.G. (2009). "The Effects of discovery learning on students' success and inquiry learning skills." Eurasian Journal of Education and Research. 35, 1-20.
Flores, M.M., & Kaylor, M. (2009). "The effects of a direct instruction program on the fraction performance of middle school students at-risk for failure in mathematics."
Journal of Instructional Psychology, 34(2), 84-94.
Hauptli, T. (2011). "Discovery learning: what it is, how it is taught, why it is important in teacher preparation courses."…[continue]
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