Many psychologists who have expounded on this theory seem to agree that the best mode of learning should be focused on the student and headed by the student. The teacher at this point is seen rather as a facilitator of the process rather than the knowledge giver, hence the learner has the freedom to interact with his environment, manipulate it to gain experiences in problem-solving techniques. The learner does not learn from what other people have already proposed but rather what he can be able to observe and learn by himself and by so doing he has authority over his findings.
There has been suggested that discovery progresses in stages that are categorized by two things that include inductive classifications and learning through mistakes at various levels. At this point, the teacher limits his guidelines and gives more time to the learner to learn from mistakes and correct one’s self. In the first, the instructor shows illustrations before engaging in instructions, which makes the learner associate the illustrations given to the instructions. This approach helps the learner to gradually develop knowledge from the facts attained.
The learner will make mistakes since he encounters unsighted paths and destructive examples. The learner should be given the opportunity to experiment with his strategies developed, hypothesis generated amidst challenges, and making mistakes to generate resilience and ownership of the process. But emphasis should be given to the process of discovery of knowledge whereas reducing inaccuracies; this helps to achieve expertise in the use of rules faster.
It is also imperative to mention that other scholars have suggested progressive steps to achieving this model of learning. One of these is Veermans who suggests five steps in the paper pedagogical models- discovery learning that includes:
- Hypothesis generation,
- Hypothesis testing,
- Conclusion, as well as
- Regulative processes
In the first step of orientation, the learners construct their initial thoughts of the area of study and the surroundings he has to learn from. This involves conducting adequate research, getting familiar with the thoughts and the working environment, bringing out what they already know about the problem/issue. It is important to note that as the ideas are generated and worked upon, the inference can bring forth findings that may cause a fresh start to the whole process.
After the first stage, the learner makes propositions about the issues and thoughts at hand. The proposition is generated from the connection the thoughts have on the inconstant and constant items under view which the learner generates. After generating the proposition the student has to examine it since it is not definite that it is precise. The learner has to come up with a proposal and implement it while gathering facts that assess the proposition, and finally deduce the outcomes.
It is important that the proposal is made in such a way that it clarifies the proposition. At the inference stage, the student should be keen to criticize the inferences gained in view of the proposition assumed. The learner should be able to decide whether the inferences are in line with the propositions he made and whether there are any inconsistencies in the results arrived at from the suggestions and the estimates.
Finally, he regulates the process by designing some specific objectives and how to meet them, he then monitors by keeping track of what is happening, observing how the different factors play in the process and how the inferences can be used to plan and execute any process, finally, he assesses the process which involves looking at the results and the phases followed to attain the assumption.
This is also assessed at the backdrop of the objectives set. It is important that the learner pays clear attention to the inferences arrived at and whether they prove the proposition he made to be true or false. If false that means that a repeat of the entire process where he has to set new assumptions, new strategies’ to test the assumptions, and then review the entire process again. It also means setting very clear goals and how to achieve them. But if the process was correct then it means he chose the right assumptions and so the results boost his morale and help to discover ways of learning.
Discovery learning has been applied by different people. For example like in “pedagogical models- discovery learning”: the Thinkertools, and Smithtown. In Thinkertools students had to track some “inquiry cycle” that had five phases. All the phases had detailed support, but during the course of working with the environment, the support gradually disappeared. Smithtown also had a fixed sequence of activities, in which learners had to identify variables of interest, and subsequently was asked to make a prediction before they could do experiments’. Jean Piaget identified four stages of cognitive development where he used primary and secondary pupils to ask questions and took them through the four phases.
Like in Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory he identifies this process as the sensorimotor stage (infancy) where the acumen of the learner is attained through mechanical actions, after a certain period of time the learner is able to learn such competencies as language and some symbols. In the second phase, the preoperational stage (early childhood stage) one’s intellect is proven by the employing of signs, the linguistic ability develops, and retention and thoughts are established. In the third phase, the concrete operational stage (adolescence) one’s intellect is shown through sound and logical management of signs associated with tangible substances.
In the fourth and last phase, the formal operational stage (Adolescence and adulthood) has been posited. One’s intellect is shown by the consistent use of signs linked to intangible ideas. It is important to mention that this method has widely been used in the science field since it is a practical field and it is believed that the learners are able to become more pragmatic in their approach to use through experimentation, drawing conclusions by themselves after developing their own hypothesis that is proven on research.