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Tell me and i forget. Show me and i remember. involve me and i uderstand.  ~chinese Proverb

What is it?



Some general ways discovery learning can be implemented into classrooms are:

  • Dissection - students see how their surroundings are built by taking them apart with their own hands.

  • Interviews - students learn through first hand knowledge.

  • Data interpretation - students use data gathered to produce outcomes for a given problem.

  • Experimentation - this allow for students to have a hands on approach.

In order for discovery learning to be successful, the following must occur:

  1. Active Learning: The lesson will require active participation from the students. This entails students working with and discussing the content first hand rather than solely listening or taking notes.

  2. Meaningful Learning: As students interact with the new material and engage in problem-solving, they must make connections for the learning to be meaningful and lasting. Discovery learning without solid connections to the new and previously learned knowledge will not be effective.

  3. Changes in Beliefs and Attitudes: Successful discovery learning places the responsibility of learning with the students - it supports the constructivist theory that understanding can be developed by the student rather than solely received from the teacher.


  • Encourage students to be critical thinkers

  • Allows students to take pride in their work

  • Encourages creativity and curiosity

  • Discovery learning supports an active engagement of the learner in the learning process, while participating,

  • Discovery learning personalizes the learning experience

  • Discovery learning is highly motivational as it allows individuals the opportunity to experiment and discover something for themselves

  • Discovery learning builds on learner's prior knowledge and understanding

  • Discovery learning creates active involvement that forces you to construct a response and this results in processing of information deeper than mere memorization


  • What students discover may not be accurate

  • Discovery learning has the potential to confuse learner's if no initial framework is available

  • Discovery learning has limitations in practice when schools try to make it the main way students learn academic lessons

  • Discovery learning is inefficient, it is too time consuming

  • Discovery learning  can become a vehicle to reject the idea that there are important skills and information that all children should learn

  • If discovery learning is taken as an overriding education theory it is apt to produce an inadequate education


View the PowerPoint below on Discovery Learning. 


Lessons and Websites

1. Basketball lesson 

2. Arcs in Circles lesson 

3. Volume lesson



  1. Svinicki, M. D. (1998). A theoretical foundation for discovery learning. American Journal of Physiology, 275, S4-S7.

  2. Saab, N., Joolingen, W. R., & Hout‐Wolters, B. H. (2005). Communication in collaborative discovery learning. British Journal of Educational Psychology,75(4), 603-621.



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