My introduction to Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) ~ thanks to Master Educator Program

Cheryld Emmons 2014Engaging through POGIL – I had the opportunity thanks to the ASPB Master Educator Program to attend my first POGIL workshop ( in June of this year, accompanied by three of my Alfred University Biology colleagues. Our curriculum is in the process of revision to meet Vision and Change and the ASPB Core Concepts in Plant Biology and include a variety of effective teaching tools. Attending the workshop was an opportunity for us to share ideas with other teachers from various educational levels (high school, 2-yr, 4-yr colleges) and discuss our common concerns about students’ abilities to grasp concepts rather than memorize facts. We all agreed that engagement is key in the learning process.

Active Learning – The workshop included sessions on facilitation, addressing learning objectives, and process skills as well as how to organize a classroom activity. In each session we were actively engaged in the process. In one session we took on the roles of students so that we could experience the process from the student point of view and provide feedback to the instructor who had volunteered to demo their new activity. In another session we started to develop our own activities and received feedback from fellow instructors.

Flipping, Not Forcing – So what did I learn from this experience? First of all it can be difficult for a long-time instructor to give up control over information delivery. Therefore, 1: I may not totally “flip” any of my classes or become completely POGILized (inside POGIL joke). But 2: I now feel that I am on the right path with developing and sharing in-class learning experiences that allow (not force) my students to work together and learn together with minor direct guidance from me.

Progressing Confidently – With this renewed confidence I am now ready to refine my in-class activities to follow the effective POGIL progression from basic concept to in-depth interpretation. Thank you ASPB!


Cheryld is a professor of biology at Alfred University and a 2014 Master Educator Program awardee.

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