The eg-rule method is an approach to teaching or learning that uses inductive reasoning to arrive at general principles or rules from specific examples. It is one of the concepts in discovery learning or guided discovery.
Students are presented with examples of something and are allowed to analyze them so that they can come to an understanding of the subjects underlying structure. This requires that the students be active and search for the answers themselves rather that just accept an explanation.
For example, in a lesson on reptiles, the instructor would provide specific examples such as snake, turtle, crocodile, and lizard. An alternate group of examples that are not reptiles could also be provided for contrast such as monkey, lion, dog, and human. The students would then be given time to come up with the distinguishing features of reptiles.
Feedback given to students during this discovery would be encouraging with no penalty for incorrect guesses. After arriving at some general principles the students could research reptiles to check their work or the instructor could identify the correct conclusions.
More examples of the eg-rule method
For an art lesson students could be shown several paintings in the realistic style and several in the impressionistic style. Then they would brainstorm the differences in subject matter, brush strokes, color, and precision to formulate the principles of each school’s approach.
For a biology lesson students could be given specific examples of the life processes that living organisms perform. One category could include plants converting carbon dioxide, water, and light energy into glucose and oxygen, a person eating a sandwich, a cow eating grass, and a lion eating an antelope. The students would try to identify the general process. The instructor would then ensure that the students arrived at the correct process (producing or obtaining food).
Strengths of the eg-rule method
- The students might feel a degree of responsibility for their own learning.
- It encourages curiosity and logical thinking.
- It can generate higher interest in a subject which can lead to deeper understanding and better retention.
Weaknesses of the eg-rule method
- It can be time consuming. If students are given a chance to think of general rules in multiple lessons, progress will be slow.
- Some students might not put in much effort. The brightest students might do all of the work.
- Others might not have the problem solving strategies or sufficient basic information on the subject at hand to proceed on their own. Frustration could result.
Some related concepts include inductive reasoning, discovery learning/guided discovery, and intuitive thinking.