How to Teach an Inductive Learning Lesson
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How to Teach an Inductive Learning Lesson

Hi. This is Jennifer Gonzalez for Cult of
Pedagogy. In this video I’ll show you how to teach an
inductive learning lesson. To understand what inductive learning is,
let’s see how it compares to its opposite: deductive learning. In deductive instruction, the overall concept
or rule is presented first, then students work with examples to apply
the concept or rule. In inductive instruction that order is reversed: Students study examples of the content first,
then they make generalizations, leading to an understanding of the rule. The order of deductive learning is rule to
examples. In inductive it’s examples to rules. So instead of giving students the rule first, then having them practice it with examples. we would give them the examples first, then
let them organize them until they discover the rule for themselves. One big advantage of inductive learning is
that it uses the practice of identifying similarities and differences, which research has shown to be one of the
most effective ways people learn. It also requires students to think on higher
levels, Especially that hard-to-reach analyzing level, because students really have to determine
what information is and is not relevant. And although inductive learning has a lot
of different names and structures, we’re just going to look at a very simple
type of lesson you can use without a lot of preparation. This is Gina, a middle school science teacher. Gina is about to begin a unit that addresses
the Next Generation Science Standards concerning Natural Selection and Adaptations. Eventually, Gina’s students will have to be
able to demonstrate complex levels of understanding about things like hereditary traits and how species have changed over time, but
before they can do that, Gina wants them to have a basic understanding
of how different species of animals are grouped by traits. Now she could just go about this in a straightforward
way, by showing them the basic taxonomy that organizes
animals, and then having students do some sort of work
that applies the concepts she just taught them. Instead, Gina is going to have her students
learn about these groupings by exploring the animals and their traits
first, to see what conclusions they can come up with. Step one of inductive learning is to provide
students with examples of the content. Now I’m calling these “examples,” but you
can also fill in this blank with key words from the content, sample problems, such as in a math class or
scenarios in a lesson about history or life skills, artifacts in a science, technology, or history
lesson, images that illustrate certain phenomena or
techniques, or sets of data. Gina starts her lesson by giving students
these animal fact cards to study. Each card contains information on the animal’s
diet, size, coloring, habitat, and reproduction. Gina tells her class that they are going to
consider how scientists organize animals in order to better study them. For this lesson, Gina will use twenty different
cards. She has students work in groups. Each group
will have its own set of twenty cards. Step 2 is to have students arrange the examples
into groups. Gina tells her students that there is no one
“right” way to group them, but that they should be thinking about the reasons why one way of
grouping might be more useful to scientists. This group decided it would organize their
animals by size. When students have placed their items into
groups, have them give each group a descriptive label. The process of coming up with a label will
further push students’ thinking. You can encourage this by asking students
to define their categories more specifically. Step 4 is to have students draw a conclusion,
make a generalization, or form a hypothesis about the content, based
on their groupings. Ideally, they should do this in writing. So remember, this group has organized their
cards by the animals’ size. Gina has asked her students to draw a conclusion
about why their method of grouping is useful to scientists. They prepare this: What you see in red is a sentence stem that Gina gave them ahead of time. Although the students’ conclusion doesn’t
necessarily address the issue of physical traits, it shows that the students are already thinking
about the purpose of organizing information for study. The next step is not required if students
are already approaching the concept you’re hoping they’ll learn, but it will result in more creative, higher-level
thinking: Have students group examples in a different
way and repeat the process. So now our group organizes their animals by
habitat, theorizing that this type of organization allows scientists to more easily study ecosystems. Eventually, some groups organize their animals
by common physical traits, noting that some animals stand in their own
categories. This is the concept that will help Gina’s
class ultimately understand the taxonomy that will form the basis for more complex
discussions. She can now deliver a brief lecture or have
students read about the taxonomy, keeping their other theories in mind and looking
for evidence to support their conclusions. This strategy comes from Silver, Strong, and
Perini’s wonderful book, The Strategic Teacher. Click on the book cover to see all the strategies
we have studied from this book. And thanks for watching. To learn an even easier strategy you can use
to turn almost any paper-based task into an interactive group activity, watch
our video on Chat Stations. Click this button to subscribe to our YouTube
channel, and click here to go to our website, Cult
of Pedagogy, where you’ll find in-depth articles, book reviews, and all kinds of other things to make you
a better teacher.

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