Hattie and Yates on discovery learning and low ability students

Chapter 9 of the new book by Hattie and Yates has probably one of the more controversial paragraphs in the book. While many people defend discovery learning, Hattie and Yates go to great length why this is a wrong assumption with the lack of research supporting this idea.

One element, I think, is very relevant:

“For instance, several studies have found that low ability students will prefer discovery learning lessons to direct-instruction-based lessons, but learn less from them. Under conditions of low guidance, the knowledge gap between low and high ability students tend to increase. The lack of direct guidance has greater damaging effects on learning in low ability students especially when procedures are unclear, feedback is reduced, and misconceptions remain as problems to be resolved rather than errors to be corrected.”


Filed under Education, Myths

19 responses to “Hattie and Yates on discovery learning and low ability students

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  2. How did they define ‘low ability’? And ‘discovery learning’, for that matter?

    • They describe ‘discovery learning’ as the suggestion “that personal discovery within itself assists a person to actually learn” (p.78). They don’t define low ability as such, but when I look at the research they mention low-ability could be translated in part as having little background knowledge on the topic.

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