Saturday, December 11, 2004

"Discovery Learning" debunked

From - Science Journal: David Klahr of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh did a study to test the concept of "discovery learning", which says kids learn better when they discover something on their own than if they are explicitly taught. In the experiment...

"Students receiving direct instruction were explicitly told to change one property at a time and were given explanations. The discovery learners got neither. In both cases, the kids worked with ramps and balls, so everyone did hands-on science. The result: Not only did more kids master the control-of-variables lesson from direct instruction, but -- and this strikes at the heart of the claims for discovery learning -- the latter approach did not give kids a deeper, more enduring knowledge. Those who learned the one-variable- at-a-time idea through direct instruction extended and applied their newfound knowledge just as well as those few who discovered it by themselves.

'I'm not saying kids never benefit from discovering something on their own,' says Prof. Klahr. 'But especially for complicated, multi-step procedures, there are just no data that discovery learning offers any benefit.'"

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