10 Strategies To Promote Curiosity In Learning

Curiosity is crucial to learning. For years, education has responded by admonishing teachers to ‘engaged’ students with ‘engaging content,’ but engagement and curiosity are decidedly different. An engaged student may very well be curious, but such curiosity isn’t necessary for engagement. Engagement is more than paying attention but doesn’t demand an empowered thinker forging into new ideas with an open-mind through inquiry and questioning. That’s curiosity.

10 Strategies To Promote Curiosity In Learning

1. Model curiosity in its many forms.

Curiosity is a human instinct but like most instincts, it can be refined through observation and practice.

Think-aloud while reading an illustrated picture book, watching a video, or even having a conversation. As long as you can ‘pause’ to ‘think out loud,’ you can explain how and what and why you’re thinking what you’re thinking, questions you have, things that pique your interest—and most crucially, the courage to follow that curiosity wherever it takes you.

2. Embed curiosity at the core of the instructional design process.

An inquiry-based learning unit in which the lessons and activities ‘don’t work’ without curiosity. One example could be a QFT session.

3. Analyze curiosity. Help students see its parts or understand its causes and effects.

Consider using the TeachThought Learning Taxonomy in designing these sorts of tasks.

4. Reward curiosity. If you want a plant to grow, you feed it. Curiosity is the same.

Gamification is one approach. While not intrinsically motivating, one under-appreciated effect of gamification is visibility. By identifying desired outcomes and visualizing progress and achievement towards those outcomes, those desired outcomes–including curiosity–can be developed and enhanced.

5. Make curiosity personal.

Require students to choose a topic for an essay, then refine that topic/theme until it’s authentic and personal to them. You could start with a general topic—climate change, for example—and then have each student refine that topic based on their unique background, interests, and curiosity until it’s truly personal and ‘real.’

6. Let students lead. It’s difficult to be curious if the learning is passive and the student doesn’t have any control. 

Allow high school students to use our self-directed learning model—or one like it—to create their own project-based learning unit.

7. Spin content. Frame content like a marketer–as new, controversial, ‘frowned upon,’ etc. 

For example, teach a book that’s been ‘banned’ from a book list somewhere. Be careful with this one—use your best judgment and choose something that’s going to draw interest and possibly agitate, but nothing that will cause problems for students or yourself.)

8. Focus on questions, not answers.

Questions are an excellent indicator of curiosity. Create a unit-entry lesson and give points for questions—quantity, quality, refinement, etc. The questions are not only evidence and practice of curiosity but can be used as an assessment tool as well.

9. Connect this to that.

Connect what students don’t know with what they do. This approach can help them activate familiar schema to make sense of new ideas. The more approachable they feel content, projects, or other activities are, the more likely they are to be curious about it.

10. De-school it. Let the content stand on its own.

For example, on the surface, Arabic numerals (as a topic in and of themselves) don’t seem inherently interesting, but if students understand that as a system it was ‘adopted’ from Hindu scholars by Arab mathematicians and its specific origin is somewhat up for debate, it suddenly becomes more interesting.

By returning some content to its more natural ‘state,’ curiosity can be encouraged.

Excerpted from “10 Strategies To Promote Curiosity In Learning” from TeachThought. Read the full post online.

Source: TeachThought | 10 Strategies To Promote Curiosity In Learning, https://www.teachthought.com/learning/curiosity-in-learning | Copyright © 2023 TeachThought
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