Inductive Teaching in Science

In order to effectively promote scientific learning for our students, we must introduce the principles of inductive teaching in order to develop more critical thinkers.  Inductive teaching begins with concepts, students are provided with specific examples or problems that they are asked to solve.  By asking questions of their teacher and consulting other academic sources, students can acquire the knowledge necessary to solve the problem and make predictions about more general concepts.  This is much more applicable to real-world situations as individuals are usually presented with a problem that they have to solve instead of being tested on relevant knowledge.  Inductive teaching also seeks to foster student understanding by making learning relevant and authentic.  By focusing on specific problems, it takes the opposite approach of deductive teaching as it uses the process of solving relevant problems to guide students into making predictions about general theories and formulas (Pierce and Felder 2007).  We see excellent examples of this in items such problem based learning and engineering design, which provide students a problem or design challenge that they must solve by exploring relevant content.

There are several advantages to the inductive teaching method.  Studies have shown that utilizing inductive methods such as problem-based learning or inquiry based learning increase student engagement, skill development, and retention.  Inductive teaching allows for students to identify with the assigned problems by creating them in such a way that they are relevant to student interests.  Problem based learning and case based learning are both strong examples of this as they utilize realistic scenarios in order to provide a greater sense of purpose for the students.  Additionally, inductive methods are effective in promoting positive attitudes towards learning.  One of the main issues with deductive teaching is that students feel disconnected from this teaching style.  Since they struggle to become engaged in learning the content, they are more likely to only temporarily retain knowledge and fail to learn the skills necessary to excel in related fields.

Observing the methods provided by Pierce and Felder on inductive teaching, there are a few that I would like to utilize in my classroom.  The main one that I would like to implement is the problem-based learning method.  While it is the most difficult to implement and has the highest degree of student frustration, the tremendous benefits it provides to problem solving, retention of knowledge, and ability to apply learned material (Pierce and Felder 2007).  While this method is more common in the medical fields, utilizing problem based learning in physics will promote a strong foundation in creative and analytical skills in multiple scientific and engineering fields.



Works Cited


Pierce, Michael and Richard Felder. “The Many Faces of Inductive Teaching and Learning.”

Journal of College Science Teaching (2007): 14-20. Print.



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