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Discovery Learning Principles

Many learning theories place the child in a central role in the learning process. The main objective of education is to teach students how to find solutions to problems, cooperate, analyze and develop their life skills. That’s why, they should feel motivated and empowered at home as well as at school so that their performance can rise significantly.

Jerome Bruner is an American psychologist who introduced Discovery Learning Theory. It is a child-centered approach to teaching which places the child in a central role in the learning situation. For Bruner, children learn better when they draw on their past experiences and knowledge to learn new things and discover facts and relationships. Children learn by interacting with their peers, exploring and manipulating objects and materials meaning that children will learn more effectively at school when they discover things and learn concepts on their own. The following are the four major principles of this theory:

  • Children are intrinsically motivated to learn: Children have an innate motivation to learn and master their world. They become curious when they are interested in something. By nature, they can interact with others to search out new things and discover facts using their imagination, intuition and creativity. Learning, for Bruner, does not mean absorbing information, but actively analyzing problems and seeking for solutions.  
  • Structure and modes of presentation are important for learning: The material to be taught should be presented in clear and meaningful ways. The teacher should arrange the material in a logical and recognizable form in order to make it accessible. For instance, the teacher should identify the necessary tasks and activities, give clear and simple instructions to help children be more focused on the tasks and choose the level of representation whether by chalk talk, means of actions, images, demonstration or symbols.
  • Errors and feedback are important for learning: According to Bruner, errors are valuable in learning. Learning does not occur only through providing the correct answers, but also through making errors. Discovery learning gives much importance to the things children learn in the process rather than the result. The teacher’s responsibility is thus to provide them with feedback that builds curiosity and interests and leads children to develop new ways of thinking and solving problems.
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