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Teaching Students to Create & Test Hypotheses

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teaching students to hypothesize can be a great way to engage students in their own learning. This lesson teaches you some strategies for helping students think and work hypothetically.

The Importance of Hypothesis

Have you ever wondered how to get children thinking creatively about the ideas they are studying? Ms. Roberts is a seventh grade science teacher who believes that helping students construct a good hypothesis, or a working theory about a concept or idea that can be tested, is a great way to activate students' knowledge and capacity for innovation. Ms. Roberts thinks that students who know how to hypothesize understand that they can construct knowledge, test out their theories, and find answers to their own important questions. In this lesson, you will learn some strategies Ms. Roberts has used to successfully teach her students to create and test hypotheses.

Problem Solving

Ms. Roberts sometimes poses hypothetical problems for her students. These might be problems directly related to content they are studying, such as the fact that the water in their town seems to be polluted. They might also be problems related to managing the classroom community, such as why girls always choose to work with other girls when given a choice. Ms. Roberts then uses a problem-solving method to allow her students to create and test hypotheses. In this method, students:

  • Brainstorm a list of possible solutions to their problems.
  • Collaboratively narrow down the list to three realistic and testable solutions.
  • Devote class time to trying these different solutions and writing up their results.

The problem-solving method can be time consuming, but it teaches students authentic ways to try out their own ideas about how to solve problems.

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