RE: inquiry based learning

From: "Verl L. Smith" <>
Subject: RE: inquiry based learning
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 96 21:48 EST

On Thu, 12 Dec 1996 wrote:

>       My question is, I know it's good to have the kids do the work and 
>learn themselves, but when do you step in and say, no, that's wrong.  Some 
>of the presentations had basic errors in science, like: the moon causes the 
>tides on both sides of the world; the shuttle stays up because there's no 
>gravitity in space; black holes don't release light, but no knowledge of 
>why; a presentation on white holes, when you pressed them, they admitted 
>they were just theoretical, but made them look factual.  I'm glad the kids 
>were motivated enuf to do all the work, but it bothers me to think other 
>kids will listen and think somethings's right because they learned it al 
>        When do we step in and correct them?  How much telling do we do to 
>ensure that what they learn and present is actual fact as we now know it?  
>Let's discuss this please, jkc
>Janet K. Cook, Science Instructor, Night Program
It looks to me like a great program - getting kids to learn together and
learn from each other.  But I think we need to be very careful in our 
response to the errors we see.  It seems that each presentation should be
followed by a question and discussion period where the teacher and other
students in the audience can raise questions about uncertainties or
perceived errors.  The presentors should be given time to research and
answer those questions that cannot be immediately answered - in a follow-up 
presentation perhaps.  We must be very careful in setting ourselves up as
"the authority" with a "no, that's wrong" approach.  Guide them to further
clarifying research when there are questions.  Have them back up their
questioned assertions with references or data - they could turn out to be
right.  What does cause "the tides on both sides of the world"?

This approach to learning teaches them far more than just the facts (which
may be wrong) it teaches them how to find answers on their own and to
question the answers they find.  Students should be given the opportunity
to be critical listeners and readers.  This is especially true with the
info-overload the wwweb brings to us.

Good question and a very good technique.

Verl Smith
Ava High School
Ava, MO