Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL)
Marcy Dubroff, M.A., Associate Director, POGIL Project
POGIL is an acronym for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning, and is a research-informed, student-centered instructional approach that simultaneously develops discipline content mastery and key process skills (skills that are valued by employers.) POGIL takes place in a structured environment in which students work cooperatively in self-managed teams on carefully crafted guided inquiry activities. This inquiry-based environment has been shown to energize students and provide instructors with continuous feedback about what their students understand and misunderstand. Students quickly recognize that logical thinking and teamwork are as important as getting the correct answer, and this underscores the concept that learning is not a solitary task of memorization, but an interactive process of refining one’s understanding and developing skills that are important in both the classwork and in the workplace.
POGIL is based on research on how people learn best. Thus, POGIL activities are developed using the learning cycle [1,2]. POGIL activities and the facilitation of those activities incorporate models of learning from various research areas. One of these that is particularly relevant to POGIL is the Information Processing Model [3,4] that shows that long-term memory is affected by previous knowledge, misconceptions, likes and dislikes, among other things. In contrast to traditional classrooms, where much of the knowledge transfer one way, from instructor to pupil, in a POGIL classroom, the instructor listens to the beliefs, misconceptions, and previous knowledge of the students as they work through activities. This allows instructors to learn more about their students as learners and to better assess their needs. POGIL also emphasizes a “growth mindset”  in which students are encouraged to be metacognitive, and embraces the concept of cooperative learning . These theoretical aspects of POGIL combine to form a powerful learning experience for students.
POGIL is not only based on educational research—The POGIL Project strongly encourages instructors to reflect on and assess their teaching as well. Over the years, The POGIL Project has collected a great deal of data related to the effectiveness of POGIL in the classroom to both teach student content knowledge and to develop process skills. Numerous studies indicate that students learn and retain content information better when the instructor uses POGIL pedagogy. This is true for both small amounts of information, such as a unit exam, and large amounts of information, such as an entire course [7,8]. The use of POGIL pedagogy also supports the achievement of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. There is an increase in A, B and C grades in these groups, decreasing the equity gap when POGIL activities are used in a course [9,7]. Students also report increases in their ability and confidence related to process skills after using POGIL for a significant amount of time in their courses. Self-assessments such as the Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) have been used to show this impact [10, 11].
For more information about The POGIL Project and the POGIL pedagogy, as well as a calendar of upcoming events, please visit the POGIL website at www.pogil.org
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 Ruder, S.M. & Hunnicutt, S.S. (2008). POGIL in chemistry courses at a large urban university: A case study. In R.S. Moog & J.N. Spencer (eds.), Process-oriented guided inquiry learning (pp. 133-147). Washington, DC. American Chemical Society.
 Béneteau, C, Fox, G., Holcomb J., Xu, X, Lewis, J.E., Ramachandram, K., & Campbell S. (2016). Peer-led guided inquiry in calculus at the University of Southern Florida. Journal of Stem Education 17(2), 5-13.
 Myers,T., Monypenny, R., and Trevathan, J. (2012). Overcoming the glassy-eyed nod: An application of process-oriented guided inquiry learning techniques in information technology. Journal of Learning Design, 5(1), 12-22.
 Straumanis, A., & Simons, E.A. (2008). A multi-institutional assessment of the use of POGIL in organic chemistry. In R.S. Moog & J.N. Spencer (Eds.), Process-oriented guided inquiry learning, (pp. 226-239). Washington, D.C.; American Chemical Society.
Marcy Dubroff is the associate director of The POGIL Project working with Project groups to develop and implement current and future plans. She has spent more than 30 years in higher education, working in various capacities including sports information, public relations, and as Director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities at Franklin & Marshall College. She earned her B.S. with distinction from Cornell University, where she majored in communications, and her M.A. in community-based education from Stevenson University. She also serves as the managing editor for Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, a publication of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement