Discovery learning is an inquiry-based method of learning allowing students to actively explore and problem-solve. Students use background knowledge and prior experiences to explore a new concept through hands-on learning activities.
Discovery learning is similar to the scientific process in that students identify a problem or question, develop a hypothesis and test the solution they create. Students observe the outcome, collecting data to analyze. Students then draw conclusions based on the project.
Discovery learning often focuses on areas of student interest. Students might develop their own projects to create a meaningful learning experience. Students use the projects to build knowledge by connecting their discoveries to things they already know.
The focus of discovery learning is the process rather than the end result. While other methods of learning focus on the score of a test or the quality of a finished project, discovery learning emphasizes how students get to the end product and what they learn during the process. An experiment that doesn't turn out as planned isn't considered a failure but rather an opportunity to reassess the hypothesis and develop a new one.
This type of learning is student-centered instead of teacher-directed. The activities aren't large group activities led by the teacher with students following step-by-step procedures. Students create the ideas and explore problems with a process that makes sense to them.