Monday, March 21, 2011

What Type of Learning Works Best?

There is new reasearch that shows starting to directly teach children at young ages can backfire in the long run. In the article, "Why Preschool Shouldnt Be Like School", by Alison Gopnick two studies are conducted in order to find out what works best, direct instrucution or discovery based instrucution. One of the studies was from MIT and the other at UC Berkly, both very prestigeous universities. An overview of the studies was that "In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. " "With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, "I'm going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!" and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy." The children who were taught how to use the toy simply knew just what the toy could do in that one instance. The children who discovered the toy on their own found out other capabilities of the toy. The children who discovered what the toy coudl do on their own were much more successfull. They werent just shown what they were shown and left it at that, they discovered the other capabilites of the toy through their own discovery. I believe it is good for teachers to teach directly in some matters but in other matters they must let the student discover information themselves. Letting students learn through discovery can make the children more creative and expand their imagination through their own experience.

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