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Thinking skills and processes in the inquiry method of teaching sample essay

There is an array of ideas and sometimes bewildering lists of terms used to describe the ways people think. But, what does thinking mean? What are thinking skills? What are higher –order thinking skills? Form the many definitions that have been provided, most include statements which describe abstract intellectual processes and operations.

For example, • Thinking is a process involving such mental operations as induction, deduction, classification, and reasoning; • Thinking is a process of dealing with abstractions and discovering the essential principles of things, as contrasted to remaining on the concrete level of facts and specific cases;

• Thinking is the ability to analyze and criticize and to reach conclusions based on sound inference or judgment. Most contemporary statements about thinking recognize that thinking skills are not the same as skills associated with more concrete behaviors or physical activities. Consider the following statements provided by Lauren Resnick (1997) about what she calls higher-order thinking: • Higher order thinking tends to be complex. The total path is not “visible” (mentally speaking) from any single vantage point.

• Higher order thinking often yields multiple solutions, each with costs and benefits, rather than unique solutions. • Higher order thinking is effortful. There is considerable mental work involved in the kinds of elaborations and judgments required. From these definitions, obviously, thinking processes and skills people need to activate them are highly complex. Hyde and Bizar (1999) have provided another conception of thinking. Based on recent research in cognition, Hyde and Bizar write about thinking as intellectual processes instead of skills. Like Resnick, Hyde and Bizar point out the complexity of thinking. They also emphasize the importance of thinking about thinking in context.

That is, although thinking processes have some similarities, they also vary according to what one is thinking about. For instance, the processes we use when thinking about mathematics differ from those used when thinking about poetry. Because of their complexity, thinking processes cannot be taught using only approaches suitable for teaching concrete ideas and skills. Thinking skills and processes are, however, clearly teachable and most programs and curricula which have been developed rely heavily on classroom discussions. Main Features of Inquiry Method of Teaching Instructional Effects of Inquiry Method of Teaching

The inquiry method of teaching is not designed to cover a large amount of learning materials or convey huge quantities of information to early childhood education students. The model has been developed primarily to accomplish three important instructional effects: (1) to help students develop the intellectual skills of asking important questions and seeking answers; (2) to help students acquire the inquiry process skills associated with various domains of human learning, and, most importantly; (3) to help students become independent, autonomous learners confident and capable of learning on their own.

Syntax of Inquiry Method of Teaching There are five major phases in the inquiry method of teaching science and mathematics. However, skillful inquiry teachers often vary particular sequencing and syntax. But the general flow of a science or mathematics inquiry lesson consists of five major phases: establishing set and explaining the procedures, presenting a puzzling situation or the problem to the students, helping students gather data about the problem, helping students hypothesize and explain the problem, and helping them analyze their thinking and inquiry processes.

Structure of the Learning Environment Unlike the very structured learning environment required of the presentation and direct instruction methods, or the use of small groups required in cooperative learning method, the learning environment in an inquiry method is characterized by wholeclass instruction, open processes, and active students roles. In fact, the whole process of helping students become independent, autonomous learners and of assisting them in becoming confident in their own intellectual skills requires active involvement.

Although the teacher and students proceed through the various phases of the lesson in a somewhat structured and predictable fashion, the norms surrounding the lesson are those of open inquiry and freedom of thought and expression. The teacher’s role is not one of dispensing knowledge and truth but instead acting as helper and guide. Procedures for using Inquiry Method of Teaching Conceptually the inquiry teaching model is quite straightforward, and it is easy for beginning teachers to grasp. Effective execution of the model, however, is more difficult.

It requires considerable practice, and it requires making specific decisions during the preinstructional (includes deciding on purposes for an inquiry inquiry lesson, choosing and designing a puzzling situation); interactive (includes conducting the lesson, establishing set and explaining inquiry procedures, presenting the puzzling situation, data gathering and experimentation, hypothesizing and explaining) and postinstructional (consists of some type of feedback, assessment, and evaluation) stages of the lesson. Conclusion

This research fairly consistently points out that it takes inquiry teaching and strategies associated with higher-level thinking to produce growth in the thought and inquiry processes of early education students. This growth brought about by any inquiry teaching is hoped to give both the teacher and the students the skills they need to become lifelong learners. The researcher further believes that acquiring such inquiry skills builds up self-esteem and confidence and leads to greater academic success. The challenge of using the inquiry method of teaching especially in the sciences and mathematics in the early childhood education is enormous.

However, one has to look up to the change you will make in the set of children entrusted to your care. References Bruner, J. (1996). A study of thinking (rev. ed). New York: Wiley. Dewey, J. (1993). How we think (rev. ed). Lexington, Mass. : D. C. Heath. Duckworth, E. (1997). Twenty-four, forty-two, and I love you: Keeping it complex. In K. Jervis and C. Montag (eds. ), Progressive education for the 1990s: Transforming practice. New York: Teachers College Press. Fenton, E. (1996). Teaching the new science and mathematics in elementary schools: An inductive approach.

New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Hyde A. & Bizar M. (1999). Thinking in context: Teaching cognitive processes across the elementary school curriculum. New York: Longman. Newton, F. (1992). Facilitating inquiry in the classroom. Portland, Oregon: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Resnick, L. B. (1997). Education and Learning to think. Washington, D. C. : National Academy Press. Suchman, R. (1992). The Elementary school training program in scientific inquiry. Report to the U. S. Office of Education. Urbana, III: University of Illinois.

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