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Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) is a student-centered, group-learning instructional strategy and philosophy developed through research on how students learn best. POGIL was devised in 1994 to better teach general chemistry. Today, POGIL is implemented in a wide range of subjects in more than 1,000 American high schools and colleges.[1]


There are two crucial aspects to the design of a POGIL activity. First, sufficient appropriate information must be provided for the initial "Exploration" so that students are able to develop the desired concepts. Second, the guiding questions must be sequenced in a carefully constructed manner so that not only do students reach the appropriate conclusion, but at the same time various process and learning skills are implemented and developed.

Typically the first few questions build on students' prior knowledge and direct attention to the information provided by the model. This is followed by questions designed to help promote the recognitions of relationships and patterns in the data, leading toward some concept development. The final questions may involve applying the concepts to new situations and generalizing students' new knowledge and understanding. Thus, POGIL activities follow the structure of the learning cycle of exploration, concept invention and application, and has a strong basis in constructivism.

Classroom implementation[edit]

In contrast to traditional classrooms, students in a POGIL classroom work in small groups (of 3 or 4) on a specially designed activity. Each student is assigned a role, such as manager, recorder, spokesperson or reflector. The instructor serves as a facilitator who listens to the discussion and intervenes at appropriate times to guide student learning. In groups, students discuss the answers to carefully crafted questions that lead them to consider the general ideas in question and to construct their own understanding of important course concepts. As ideas are formulated, groups share their findings and understanding to new and increasingly difficult problems or contexts.

Rather than having the instructor begin class by defining terms and laying out concepts, students work actively to master material and formulate a deeper understanding of content. Built into the experience is the support of a variety of important process skills, including communication, teamwork, and critical thinking, which translates to a more complete understanding of the entire concept, and a lasting understanding of the material.

The POGIL Project[edit]

The teaching method of POGIL is supported by the POGIL Project, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Lancaster, PA. The POGIL Project has earned numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and other sources. The POGIL Project is based on an understanding of the important components of an effective faculty development structure. The project trains faculty to implement POGIL in their classrooms, and creates new POGIL materials through an multitude of opportunities including workshops, on-site visits, and consultancies. The project also hosts an annual POGIL National Meeting to grow and expand the POGIL community.

The current director of The POGIL Project is Rick Moog, Professor of Chemistry at Franklin & Marshall College. Dr. Moog has used POGIL materials in his teaching since 1994, and is a co-author of POGIL materials for general and physical chemistry.


  1. ^ Process-Oriented Guided Learning. American Chemical Society. 2008. ISBN 978-0-8412-7423-5. 

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