The COVID-19 pandemic changed our traditional view of what education should be and transformed it to include multiple methods of delivery. The use of online tools has been revolutionary for many, and now, as we transition back to face-to-face learning, many instructors are hoping to incorporate these tools into their in-person/synchronous instruction. Tools such as Jamboard, breakout rooms, and Google slides, to name a few, have been critical to keeping students on track and interacting with each other and instructors are hoping to find ways to keep using them. Thus, while a return to the classroom will be welcome, continuing to utilize and incorporate these online tools will make for a more dynamic experience for both instructors and students. It is also important to remember that a mere return to physical teamwork should include effective implementation of cooperative learning techniques, which contain at least three common characteristics—the techniques should be motivational, effective, and cognitive. Through these techniques, each student will be able to encourage their teammates to collaboratively reach group goals and to gain confidence in their own abilities while still being challenged academically. The instructor should serve as a coach/adviser by facilitating key interactions among students that can further lead students to their own deeper understandings and encourage the construction of new and refined knowledge.
One way to connect with other practitioners is through The Project’s new Facebook page that is designed to bring together POGIL practitioners so that they have an opportunity for shared learning, a chance to discuss POGIL practice, and the ability to develop and deepen relationships with others in the POGIL community. Conversations range from “how do you do this in your classroom” to ads for various positions in different regions. With about 400 members, the POGIL Practitioners page is a great place to find the latest news and resources that will help you in your own classrooms, as well as connect and stay connected with other POGIL practitioners outside of meetings and events. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/POGIL/?ref=pages_profile_groups_tab&source_id=124666176320
The POGIL Project offers a variety of resources geared toward helping educators with online teaching. We have a variety of webinars and recordings where community members speak about their own experiences with online teaching and what has helped them in their classrooms while online. We also have a variety of helpful links and tips on this page to help you navigate the virtual classroom experience.
To access these resources, visit our special page at https://pogil.org/teaching-online-during-the-covid-19-crisis. We also encourage you to join our POGIL Practitioners Facebook page at https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/POGIL/, for a community where people come together to share ideas and ask questions.
Taking courses online has proven highly effective among students as it gives them the ability to practice POGIL activities throughout the week at their own pace, while still having a “deadline” to complete the assignments. It is a different experience but the beautiful thing about POGIL is that it can be applied in new creative ways that will still accommodate student needs. We understand the difficulties that have arisen in education amidst COVID and The POGIL Project is committed to supporting its practitioners during this difficult time. Feel free to reach out and check out our resources that can help you best manage your POGIL classroom online.
Employing the POGIL method in any discipline provides the opportunity to impart transfer skills; teach process skills and social learning; improve mastery of content, skills, and depth of learning; increase course exam scores, grades, and standardized test scores; increase student perceptions of the value of learning in teams; and lower course attrition rates. The fact that process skills help students transfer acquired procedural skills to new conceptual and social situations is the most valid reason to employ POGIL across disciplines. These process skills are also in demand by employers and therefore should be included in any university discipline, in STEM disciplines, in any grade level, and beyond.
The Guided Inquiry (GI) of POGIL is structured inquiry or identifying inquiry. A POGIL activity uses a learning cycle to support students in constructing knowledge about the disciplinary content related to a larger concept or driving question. Both the question and the desired learning outcomes for students drive the design of the activity. The activity structure is designed such that the learning-cycle components scaffold student learning through the activity. Once students complete the activity, they are able to answer the overarching question posed by the instructor as well as construct meaning of new knowledge and understanding. In this inquiry, the instructor no longer takes the role of being the deliverer of information, but rather takes the role of a facilitator of ideas and learning which enables student learning. The guided inquiry and process components are highly integrated within the classroom implementation of POGIL, and the effective implementation of guided inquiry requires the active engagement of students in constructing ideas and mastering material.
The POGIL methodology is an effective guided inquiry strategy with a proven track record or enhancing student learning. In addition, the guided inquiry method of teaching matches well with the inquiry necessary for conducting science. Inquiry methods in the POGIL model follow the learning cycle components of exploration, concept invention, and application, and require students to make use of a set of process skills to learn the relevant material. The learning cycle matches well to the traditional model of the scientific method. In the exploration phase, the activity proves and asks questions about a phenomenon and leads to concept invention, analogous to analyzing data and developing a hypothesis. Students then move on to application, or hypothesis testing, and ask more questions.
When selecting and/or writing POGIL activities, an initial step is to think about why the activity is being used. A POGIL activity is designed to guide students as they construct a deep understanding of a concept and, at the same time, to help them develop process skills. A POGIL activity is appropriate for the following:
• A new and important concept, particularly a threshold concept (Meyer & Land, 2003) that students often struggle with, but must master to continue with the subject.
• A concept in which students are likely to be confused of struggle due to inexperience, lack of knowledge, or misconceptions.
• The start of a new unit or topic to orient students to new ideas, problems, or approaches.
Instructors should also recognize when not to use POGIL activities. Each activity is designed to be used by a team of students with active facilitation by an instructor. Thus, activities should not be assigned as homework or used without facilitation. In addition, POGIL activities may not be the best tool for reviewing concepts with which students are already familiar.