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Exploration Learning

We call this exploration learning: defining a problem, asking questions about the problem, finding the resources needed to answer the questions, answering the overall problem, and assessing your answer and methodology. 

Through exploration learning, learners should:

  • Recognize and be unafraid of unsolved problems,
  • Be curious about what is known and how we know it,
  • Be willing to work toward answers in steps over time,
  • Develop independence and initiative in working toward solutions,
  • Have patience with ambiguity,
  • Have patience with dead ends (“failures”) and thus build resilience,
  • Understand the difference between a problem theyhave not solved, and a problem no onehas solved,
  • Practice listening and respecting the contributions of teammates and
  • Experience knowledge creation.

During exploration learning, learners should do one or more of:

  • Practice asking questions,
  • Learn how to improve their questions,
  • Solve problems that require multiple steps and may not have single answers,
  • Identify and tackle problems whose solution is not known to the team or instructor (knowledge creation),
  • Obtain and assess the quality of the content they use to reach answers,
  • Assess the quality of the answers they produce, and
  • Work in interdisciplinary groups where all voices contribute. 


Involving students in knowledge creation is a challenge in a large university unless we bring research into the classroom and the classroom into the research lab. Exploration learning skills are critical to the concept of “master learners” – students must learn the skills and processes needed for answering tomorrow’s questions, not just absorb the content discovered to date.