Discovery Learning

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Discovery Learning is a method of inquiry-based instruction and is considered a constructivist based approach to education. It is supported by the work of learning theorists and psychologists Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, and Seymour Papert.


Although this form of instruction has great popularity, there is some debate in the literature concerning its efficacy (Mayer, 2004[1], Kirschner et al, 2006[2] ). Jerome Bruner is often credited with originating discovery learning in the 1960s, but his ideas are very similar those of earlier writers (e.g. John Dewey). Bruner argues that “Practice in discovering for oneself teaches one to acquire information in a way that makes that information more readily viable in problem solving" (Bruner, 1961, p. 26[3]). This philosophy later became the discovery learning movement of the 1960s. The mantra of this philosophical movement suggests that we should 'learn by doing'. In 1991, The Grauer School, a private secondary school in Encinitas, California, was founded with the motto, "Learn by Discovery ," and integrated a series of world-wide expeditions into their program for high school graduation.


  1. Mayer, R. (2004). "Should there be a three-strikes rule against pure discovery learning? The case for guided methods of instruction". American Psychologist 59 (1): 14–19
  2. Kirschner, P., Sweller, J. and Clark, R. E. (2006). refworks.jpg Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: an analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.
  3. Bruner, J. S. (1961). "The act of discovery". Harvard Educational Review 31 (1): 21–32

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