Term of Art: Discovery Learning

“An approach to learning based on the principle of ‘learning by doing’ in which new ideas develop. Discovery learning activities are designed so that students discover facts and principles themselves, through personal experience, rather than having them authoritatively explained by a textbook or a teacher. Discovery learning in prized by progressive and constructivist educators. Some of the principles of discovery learning have long been part of the repertoire of traditional teachers as well, especially in science classes, where, for example, students can directly observe the results of experiments. Critics claim that discovery learning is extremely time-consuming, difficult to manage, and inefficient because so much time is wasted waiting for students to ‘discover’ what is already known by their teachers.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

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