What Is Inductive Learning?

Inductive learning is a teaching strategy that emphasizes the importance of developing a student’s evidence-gathering and critical-thinking skills. By first presenting students with examples of how a particular concept is used, the teacher allows the students to come up with the correct conclusion. The idea is that the students will eventually notice a pattern within the examples given.

Inductive learning relies on the student’s ability to notice the pattern emerging within the examples the instructor presents. The final task in inductive learning is asking the student to explain the pattern and the resulting rule in their own words. This will determine if the student fully grasps the concept. One example of inductive teaching is using a particular word or phrase in different sentences. With each new sentence using the same word or phrase, the goal is to have students eventually “catch on” to the pattern of usage and be able to identify the grammar rule used in each of the examples.

Inductive learning is in contrast to deductive learning, which is a more teacher-focused strategy. Using the deductive approach, the teacher first presents a concept, explains how it is used, then requires students to practice using it through quizzes or drills. The method is widely criticized due to its robotic nature and inadequate focus on meaning. It is, however, a useful method in teaching difficult concepts or helping students prepare for standardized tests with a similar format.