POGIL is based on the biology of learning (e.g. Zull, 2002), and has been developed and validated over the last 15 years, primarily in chemistry education (e.g. Moog, Spencer, 2008). In POGIL, teams of learners (typically 3-4) work on scripted inquiry activities and investigations designed to help them construct their own knowledge, often by modeling the original processes of discovery and research. The teams follow processes with specific roles, steps, and reports that encourage individual responsibility and metacognition. POGIL activities and processes are designed to achieve specific learning objectives. The instructor serves as a facilitator, not a lecturer. Multiple studies have examined the effectiveness of POGIL, and generally find that POGIL significantly improves student outcomes.
Every teacher has pressure to cover more and more content each year. A POGIL activity often takes more time than a lecture on the same content, but as teachers we should focus on outputs (what is learned), not inputs (what is covered). Topics usually contain several related concepts; students who truly understand one key concept often find it much easier to learn related concepts. Many studies have found that POGIL students do better than lecture students, even on standardized exams and exams written by the lecture teacher.
Some teachers use POGIL in every class meeting; some use a combination of POGIL, lecture, and other techniques. Both approaches can be successful. It takes time for students to learn to work in teams and follow POGIL processes, so using POGIL only a few times during a term may not work well. For teachers new to POGIL, one activity per week may be a good start.
It often takes some time for students (and teachers) to adjust to POGIL elements and processes. Some teachers choose to start the term with an activity designed to introduce POGIL.
Normally, a POGIL activity leads students to invent or identify a new concept (not to review a concept already presented via lecture or reading). To be useful to other teachers, a POGIL activity should clearly identify prerequisite knowledge.
POGIL should be useful whenever students need to develop or understand key concepts, since POGIL uses the learning cycle, teamwork, and other practices from learning science. POGIL is best known in STEM disciplines, but it is used in many other disciplines and contexts.
This can be done in many ways, each with good and bad features.
In a team with strong and weak students, the weak students may depend on the strong.
Teams should change rarely if at all, but roles should change with every activity, so that each student gains experience and skills in each role. Many teachers use similar roles (manager, speaker, recorder) but these are not required; the teacher or activity author should choose roles that match the activity and process goals.
This can be done in many ways:
This is probably the most common approach.
Teachers should consider many goals and issues for reporting:
Reporting can be done in many ways:
POGIL has been used successfully in classes of 200 or more. Consider:
Student facilitators can help, especially in large classes; this is called Peer-Led Guided Inquiry (PLGI). This works best when the student facilitators have previously completed the activity, and when they have received some training in POGIL facilitation.
With a good activity, most teams will stay focused and engaged on their own. Restless teams may be a sign that the activity can be revised and improved. Also, consider adding variety with more or different reporting out, mini-lectures, or activities where teams move around or manipulate physical objects.
POGIL is usually better than lecture, but no approach to learning is 100% effective. Remind students that they will learn more in a team than working alone, perhaps by starting the term with an activity that focuses on teamwork.
Remind students that POGIL will help them to develop teamwork and other process skills, which are required in most careers and professional work.
Some students have had bad experiences with teams, because work was not shared equally; remind them that POGIL activities and roles are designed to engage all members equally, and that each member will rotate through each role.