Problem Solving, Problem-Based Learning and Discovery Learning

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Problem-solving, problem-based learning, discovery learning and similar approaches sound good but the logistical aspects of implementing them outweigh any benefits they might have. 

Constructivist based approaches to instructional strategies such as problem solving require a considerable amount of time in planning (Whitton, Sinclair, Barker, Nanlohy, & Nosworthy, 2004). As well, teachers will need to work through each step of the lesson with students, and for this reason they are less often utilised. However, the positive benefits to student learning using problem solving as an instructional strategy by far outweighs the negative.

Problem–based and project–based learning is effective because it increases student motivation. Students are motivated to find answers to problems that they can relate to their existing knowledge. Research is necessary and therefore requires higher order thinking. Real world, everyday problems that are ill–structured are best because they don’t have one single solution (Fetherston, 2006). An example of an ill–structured problem that could be done collaboratively in groups: The park around the corner has never been named. What do we need to do to give it a name? Who would be involved? How would we decide on a name?

Through experiment lessons, students work hands–on within guidelines set by the teacher (Whitton et al., 2004). An example of using experiment as a teaching strategy could be adapted during Stage 1 Literacy: Finding a pattern for handwriting. The teacher can help guide the concept of handwriting, as the students find common patterns to use to form letters easiest.

Like experiment, learning through discovery or inquiry learning is within guidelines set by the teacher. These modes of learning may also involve research (Whitton et al., 2004). Research may require Internet access. Discovery learning as a teaching strategy could be adapted outdoors during science, mathematics, or physical education.

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