Discovery Learning and Its Psychologist Leaders
John Dewey contributed a lot to the discussions on the subject of Discovery learning in his famous progressive education theory, where he presupposes that learning should be developed in stages by the learners encounter with nature and his ability to manipulate it to gain some meaning out of it and by interacting with people. Jerome Bruner is a cognitive psychologist who expounded this theory by establishing its empirical efficacy. He argues that this is a way of learning where the learner does his inquiry of knowledge that makes problem-solving viable. In his book The Process of Education, he views children as active participants in the learning process whose behavior should be guided as they interact with the environment, the learners’ instinctive abilities should be developed to question his environment, develop problem-solving techniques that are easily remembered by the learner.
Piaget is another psychologist who developed a theory related to discovery learning. As a biologist, his interests were in how organisms adjust to their surroundings. He says that a human being uses mental impulses that represent his sphere and the chosen act. To him, our ability to adjust to surroundings and be able to put up with them constitutes our cognitive experiences. He did experiments with different ages of students from primary to secondary ages of school-going kids. In his experiments, he tried to establish how students at different stages of their cognitive development learn through associating with different elements in the environment. He suggests that teachers should help learners to discover their abilities through discussion groups, field excursions, and guided experiments.
Leo Vygotsky is another psychologist who generated theories to explain the learning process in society. He claimed that as a child interacts with older members of the society, his language symbols develop, he is able to understand various societal codes and assign meaning to different symbols this eventually affects the child’s way of acquiring knowledge. In the same regard, he mentions the ability of the child to observe and manipulate the tools found in the society helps him to learn how to use them and once he owns or possesses one then he manipulates it in his own way as he learns how it functions.
He brings up another interesting argument that children always have a desire to do something for example driving a car, and when they realize they cannot, they start to imagine how to do it anyway, and this is done through driving toys and making some. When they grow up they realize that the toys are no longer driven that way so they learn the rules of driving and associate them with their previous experiences. He also puts forth the idea of language and thought that children learn a language through association, they cry, point at things, develop names and attach meanings to things. When they speak out, it is something they have been thinking about so they verbalize it loudly.
This learning by association helps them to discover new things by themselves and therefore the rate of retention is high. Castronova also contributed to this theory where together with other writers they suggested five features of this learning method. To them, as mentioned above knowledge acquisition is based on familiarization with the process, collating necessary information to resolve the issue, understanding how to do it, framing and affecting a premise out of the information collated, discussing the practicalities of getting the solution, and then working out. By so doing the learner is able to satisfy his/her own inquisitiveness and therefore better appreciate how to resolve issues and the approaches involved without much influence.