What Is Inductive Teaching?


Inductive teachers use examples to demonstrate a concept and then lead students on an exploratory process to determine the similarities between the examples. Student-centered activities allow learners to make estimates about results. Students are expected to be responsible for their learning. According to information published on the website Annenberg Learner, inductive learning occurs when observations and data are used to make a generalization. Inductive teaching can be used with students of all ages.

Study Examples

  • A teacher using inductive teaching will give students several examples of a particular theory before defining the concept. Students will be encouraged to study to the examples and make notes on what they see. A geometry teacher might present students with several examples before teaching the principal common to each of them. A lesson plan written by Ellen Booth Church that was published on the Scholastic website suggests ways for an elementary teachers to use inductive science teaching strategies as students play an observation game. Teachers encourage students to find something in nature and focus on it, looking for details they might not have noticed before. For example, students might focus on a autumn leaf and make note of color, coloration patterns, and time of color change.

Make Generalizations

  • Inductive teachers instruct students to create a generalization that applies to all the examples, based on observations made by students. For example, in the science lesson on nature, students might make the generalization that all leaves that fall from trees seem to change color at about the same time.

Ask Questions and Create Theories

  • Inductive teachers often group students together to give them an opportunity to solve problems. Probing questions allow students to make important connections between the generalizations that they made and a theory that can apply to a concept. In the nature lesson, teachers would ask students why they think the trees drop leaves in autumn. They would further lead students by asking students why they think different leaves turn different colors. Students would create a theory as to why they think leaves change color and fall during the autumn months.

Practice and Further Investigation

  • Inductive teaching strategies encourage students to solve new problems by placing their theory into practice. In the nature lesson, students may research what changes contribute to leaves changing colors and falling, such as temperature changes or light reduction.

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