Inductive and Deductive Approaches

Grant, Johnston & Sanders (1990, p. 3) write:
In many [science] classrooms, the emphasis is on deductive approaches to learning in which students are given definition of concepts which are followed by examples, questions and activities which illustrate the concept to be learned and which provide the opportunities for students to practise using the concept or new information.

Deductive approaches are appropriate on many occasions. Over-dependence, however, may result on passive learning and an attitude amongst students that [science] knowledge is black and white and that there are correct answers to all problems in science. Additionally, the approaches often fail to value the understandings that student bring with them to the classroom which, as research as clearly shown, are difficult to change in cases where students have faulty or non-scientific understandings of concepts. Reliance on deductive approaches also ignores the reality that students, like all other people, learn in a variety of ways and that they have their own preferred learning styles.

Inductive approaches to learning rely more on providing students with a range of experiences which gradually increase their familiarity with new concepts, before attempting to draw these together into a coherent understanding of the new concept. Rather than being faced with the teacher's definition of a concept at the beginning of a topic, the student's understanding of the concept is gradually constructed as a result of exposure to a whole range of activities and experiences.

My desire to cultivate inductive approaches to the teaching of computing relates to a desire to cater for students' prior understandings, cultivate active learning, commence with students' prior knowledge and cater for a range of different learning styles.


Grant, P., Johnson, L., & Sanders, Y. (1990). Better Links: Teaching Strategies in the Science Classroom. STAV Publishing. ISBN 0 949820 14 8 [STAV is the Science Teachers' Association of Victoria]