Teaching and Learning

In Chapter 18, “Inquiry-Guided Learning,” Nilson (2010) wrote of the importance of students’ developing questions themselves in the course of their learning. This method of inquiry-guided learning is especially important for students learning scripting or programming languages. It’s very easy for students to copy what I do, character for character; but I find that the mere act of parroting my code does nothing to help them understand what the code means at a deeper level. Therefore, I’ve begin including more inquiry-guided learning in my scripting classes. I often break students up into pairs and give them a coding problem to solve together. As Nilson (2010) stated, the goal of this sort of exercise is so that “they can start thinking more like experts” (p. 176). When my students go into the working world, they will be expected to solve problems such as these, not just copying someone else’s code.


Nilson (2010) mentioned the importance of scaffolding in inquiry-guided learning. Scaffolding refers to the process in which a learner receives assistance from someone who has more experience in the subject matter (Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976). Thus, the instructor’s role is to provide support for the learners. During inquiry-guided learning exercises, I will often ask questions to get the students thinking of different approaches to a scripting problem. In this way, I’m providing support and guidance while allowing students to come to their own conclusions.

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a variation of inquiry-guided learning. Project-based learning results in “greater improvement in students’ conceptual understanding, problem-solving skills, and attitudes” (Nilson, 2010, p. 179) than more traditional test-based learning. Project-based learning is appropriate for web development classes since it more accurately reflects what industry professionals do in the field. All of my web development courses include a final project. For CIS 181 Web Development I, students must create a four-page web site for a travel destination. This gives students the opportunity to synthesize or create something new using everything they’ve learned throughout the semester. Creating original work is the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (2016).



Bloom’s Taxonomy. (2016). Retrieved February 18, 2016, from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wood, D. J., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 17(2), 89-100. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1976.tb00381.x