Note: The following article is a revised version of one I’ve shared in the past about Problem-based Learning. I revised it to match a new site I’m putting together. This installment is one of several that will appear over the next few days.

Action 3 – Focus Inquiry and Investigation

Once students are engaged in the problem, they begin to write down their hunches about it and identify with a stakeholder. This is an important action because, after introducing the problem, it determines what happens next. You can say to students the following in regards to the stakeholders in the problem:

In order to help them, let’s share what our hunches are about this situation, what we know, what we need to know to help the person/people in this situation. Essentially, what guesses can we make about what is happening in the story?

We want to collect these hunches so that all students can see them, then, move to asking questions. The focus of questions is to identify questions about what we know, what we need to know to help the stakeholders. 

Now that we’ve created a list of hunches, let’s focus on what we know about the situation. Create a new column on your projection device (e.g. whiteboard, document camera) and label it “KNOW.”

In order to help the person/people in this problem, based on our reading of the problem, what do we KNOW for certain? These are “in the text” questions that help us list the facts.

Finally, in a column labelled “Need to Know,” write down everything students agree on that they need to know about the problem to provide help or assistance to those affected by the problem.

What do we need to know about this problem that we don’t know? Use your map of possibilities to help guide YOUR understanding (as teacher). List all the questions. 

Following this, they can begin the process of locating, gathering and using sources of information. One approach for accomplishing this is the use of a KWHL chart.
  • Know – What do we know based on our reading of the problem? (K)
  • What – What do we want to know about this? (W)
  • How – How are we going to find this out (H)
  • Learned – And, after the activity has moved on, what have we learned about this problem? 
Inquiry and investigation builds a basis for students to design a solution product.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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