What is Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning

Initial Publication Date: November 17, 2008

In a POGIL classroom, students work in learning teams on guided inquiry exercises. The Process-Oriented component of POGIL is designed to have each instructor think about what process skills are important to develop for his or her students. The Guided Inquiry component of POGIL explicitly enhances the analytical and critical thinking skills of the students through the design of the activities (the learning cycle) and the use of groups requiring students to explain their reasoning.

Process Skills

Process skills are incorporated into classroom activities through the structure of the activity or explicitly directed questions (for example: "Explain your answer in complete sentences"; "Compare your answers to your team's answers, and discuss any differences"). Process skills are also developed by the instructor's interactions with individual groups and the class as a whole.
"Working as a group is a strength of this course. Working with a group improved my communication skills." student comment

  • Information processing
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Management
  • Assessment

Guided Inquiry

"I learned the material better because it was more for me to figure out than the teacher to tell me" -- student comment

POGIL classrooms utilize activities that follow the learning cycle. Questions begin with exploration of a model, leading to the introduction of a term or concept, followed by application of the material. This is based on a Piagetian model of learning and was further developed by Karplus and others (Karplus and Thier, A New Look at Elementary School Science, Chicago: Rand McNally (1967) and Piaget, J. J. Res. Sci. Teach, 1964, 2, 176.)

POGIL vs. Traditional