In defense of inquiry-based pedagogies

Year: 2018

Author: Stevens, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In their 2006 paper “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work” Kirshner, Sweller and Clark claim that minimally guided instruction is less effective and less efficient than instructional approaches that place a strong emphasis on guidance of the student learning process. If we see pedagogies as tools for learning, this claim is on a par with the assertion that a hammer is less effective and efficient than a screwdriver. In response to this we might ask “for what?” For driving in nails a hammer is better. For adjusting screws a screwdriver is better. So for what is strongly guided instruction better? It turns out Kirshner and his colleagues are claiming that strongly guided instruction is better than minimally guided instruction for memorisation of facts. It would also be better for learning the more technical aspects of reading, writing and mathematics. In this paper I will argue that there is more to teaching and learning than the memorisation of facts for reproduction in tests or learning technical aspects of basic skills. Learning a skill or a capability such as critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, oracy, personal and social capabilities, playing the clarinet or playing chess, requires lots of practice that minimally guided pedagogies facilitate.