Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL)

Attendees at a POGIL workshop hosted in 2019.

Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning

Commonly called POGIL, this is a team based activity based on many years of research about how learning happens.

You can see the official site at

A POGIL activity accomplishes two thing:

  • It develops Process Skills (Process Oriented) such as critical thinking and teamwork
  • It allows students to construct their own knowledge using Guided Inquiry.

We develop the process skills by giving each student a role. Teams typically have four students, but there are many variations. Here are the classic roles:

  • Manager
    • Keeps track of the time
    • Makes sure team stays on topic
    • Makes sure everyone contributes and is heard
  • Reporter
    • Asks questions to the facilitator
    • Answers questions during class discussion on behalf of the group
  • Recorder
    • Keeps a neat copy of the results of the activity, and shares it with the rest of the group
    • Possibly turns in any assignments to the instructor
  • Reflector
    • Observes and reports to the other team members how well the performed as a team
    • Serves as quality control: “are you sure this is right?”

The activities themselves use carefully crafted examples and questions that guide the students and help them to learn the content on their own. Properly constructed, a formal lecture is not even necessary. Each activity implements a Learning Cycle that consists of three phases:

  • Exploration: Students observe patterns
  • Concept Invention: Instructor introduces vocabulary and refines understanding
  • Application: Students apply knowledge to solve a new problem
Mattox Beckman
Mattox Beckman
Teaching Associate Professor of Computer Science