Induction: Helping Students Learn to Think

Children are born natural inquirers. We come into this world seeking to know more about our surroundings. As we question the world around us, we use our innate ability to categorize the information that we have been given. As teachers, one of our goals is to create environments that facilitate learning in our students. The inductive model is such a powerful method used to give children the ability to not only seek out their own learning, but to enjoy the journey a lot more than if teachers just fed them knowledge through worksheets and textbooks. When we use the inductive model in our classroom, our students are not only learning new information, but are building their cognitive abilities and their ability to think for themselves. When children enter “the real world” after high school or college, few will have an adult telling them how to navigate this “new” world. Children will need to have developed the cognitive abilities that give them the power to think about problems and develop ways to solve them. This is why the inductive model is such a necessary model for teaching.

The inductive model allows children to develop new content and vocabulary as they collect information, which gives them the potential to increase their thinking as they learn to question and discover the world around them and the material that is presented to them. As an example, as a 3rd grade teacher, I am about to begin a new science unit: Sun, Moon, and Earth. Instead of dusting off the textbook and showing videos and asking them to give me answers about information that I spoon feed them, I can use the inductive model to guide my students through their own learning. Through guided inquiry and models of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, I could lead my students in an exploration of shadows. Some questions I could ask that would give my students to think about the “whys” and “hows” of the relationship between our planet, our moon, and the sun may include: How do the three interact with each other? What happens when the moon is between the Earth and Sun? What happens when the Earth is between the Moon and Sun? Does the Sun have a shadow? How are day and night created? Does Earth’s view of the Moon change? How do you think people long ago (and today) were able to tell time using the Sun? Through this model, my students would have the opportunity to guide their own learning, under my scaffolding, to see for themselves how shadows are created and the relationship that the Sun and Moon have with the Earth.

Instructing and guiding students through an inductive model of learning isn’t just posing a problem and asking students to think and question. Teaching have to have a knowledge of the curriculum and be prepared to let students travel down unexpected paths of their learning. We have to remember that while the students are doing the learning, we are doing the teaching: “We design the environment to make it likely that the students will learn” (Joyce, p. 45). While they collect and build data sets, construct and categorize ideas, teachers arrange the learning environment and give tasks that will allow children to form and generate new concepts and questions pertaining to their learning. All of this is why the inductive model is such a powerful method in helping students deepen their understanding of content, while they build life-long skills that they will be carried with them through their life.


Joyce, B., Weil, M., Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th Ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Baumtrog, J. (2013). “Exploration of Shadows in the Earth, Moon, and Sun Systems: Moon Phases and Eclipses.” Minnesota Science Teachers Education Project. Retrieved from:


This entry was posted in 2 Instruction, 4 Content Knowledge, 5 Learning Environment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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