• xTalks: Digital Discourses

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Guided Discovery as a Teaching Method

Emanuel Sachs

The term “Guided Discovery” refers to a teaching and learning environment where students are actively participating in discovering knowledge. The goal of discovery is to facilitate deep learning on the part of the students – learning that has its basis in fundamental understanding and often arises from viewing a problem from multiple perspectives. The pedagogical underpinning is that if the students discover the knowledge, they will, in the process, have created and added to their own scaffolded understanding. They will have formulated and evaluated hypotheses, rejected those that don’t seem to explain observations, confronted misconceptions, encountered surprises and finally come to an understanding that comports with experiment. By re-creating knowledge which already exists but is heretofore unknown to them, students will progress in learning how to create new knowledge, and they will have training in inductive reasoning – the method used to create most human knowledge.

This highly interactive presentation will showcase some of the guided discoveries used, in collaboration with my ME colleagues, in teaching 2.001. Data on student response will be presented.

Emanuel “Ely” Sachs is the Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He has been recognized for pioneering new approaches to teaching undergraduate education, focusing on active, hands-on participation by students in the discovery of knowledge.