Pogil - Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning

What is POGIL?

POGIL is an acronym for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning.  POGIL originated in college chemistry departments in 1994; there are now well over 1,000 implementers in a wide range of disciplines in high schools and colleges around the country.

POGIL uses guided inquiry – a learning cycle of exploration, concept invention and application is the basis for many of the carefully designed materials that students use to guide them to construct new knowledge.  POGIL is a student-centered strategy; students work in small groups with individual roles to ensure that all students are fully engaged in the learning process.

POGIL activities focus on core concepts and encourage a deep understanding of the course material while developing higher-order thinking skills. POGIL develops process skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and communication through cooperation and reflection, helping students become lifelong learners and preparing them to be more competitive in a global market.

POGIL is a classroom and laboratory technique that seeks to simultaneously teach content and key process skills such as the ability to think analytically and work effectively as part of a collaborative team.

 A POGIL classroom or lab consists of any number of students working in small groups on specially designed guided inquiry materials. These materials supply students with data or information followed by leading questions designed to guide them toward formulation of their own valid conclusions—essentially a recapitulation of the scientific method. The instructor serves as facilitator, observing and periodically addressing individual and classroom-wide needs.

POGIL is based on research indicating that a) teaching by telling does not work for most students, b) students who are part of an interactive community are more likely to be successful, and c) knowledge is personal; students enjoy themselves more and develop greater ownership over the material when they are given an opportunity to construct their own understanding.

We have found that a discovery-based team environment energizes students and provides instructors with instant and constant feedback about what their students understand and misunderstand. Students quickly pick up the message that logical thinking and teamwork are prized above simply getting “the correct answer.” This emphasizes that learning is not a solitary task of memorizing information, but an interactive process of refining one’s understanding and developing one’s skills.

What makes POGIL different?

There are a number of student-centered instructional techniques that can be effective for achieving valid learning goals in the classroom.  POGIL differs from other approaches in its use and design of distinct classroom materials.  Three characteristics of POGIL materials are as follows:

  • POGIL materials are designed for use with self-managed teams that interact with the instructor as a facilitator of learning rather than as a source of information.
  • POGIL materials guide students through an exploration to construct understanding.
  • POGIL materials use discipline content to facilitate the development of higher-level thinking skills and the ability to learn and apply knowledge in new contexts.