Discovery-Driven Expanding/OG

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Discovery-Driven Expanding
Contributors Takashi Iba, Chikara Ichikawa, Mami Sakamoto, Tomohito Yamazaki
Last modification May 17, 2017
Source Iba, Ichikawa, Sakamoto & Yamazaki (2011)[1]; Harashima, Kubota & Iba (2014)[2]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain
Creative mind isn’t built in a day. In designing a curriculum, set the goal in stages, from individual to collaborative achievement.
Discovery-Driven Expanding-OG.png

You want to introduce a type of learning as an alternative style into your school or class, which is learner-centered learning[3], rather than conventional styles of knowledge transfer. Learner-centered style does not mean to let learners do anything they like, since there must be an intention what you want them to learn. So you need to DESIGN curriculums to meet two different requirements: autonomy and growth of learners. You may know collaborative learning, which is a kind of creative learning, is well known to be a good way for realizing learner-centered learning, where more than one people collaborate toward a shared goal, and learn through the process.

▼In this context

If you introduce collaborative learning as a way for learner-centered learning suddenly, it is difficult for learners to perform and learn from their experience effectively. It is because collaborative learning requires the abilities of thinking and communication to some extent. In other words, learners need to welcome discoveries of others and their team.


Set the goals in the curriculum according to the stage of learners, where they can expand the ability gradually through the accumulation of creative learning: individual, interpersonal, and collaborative achievement. In first stage, set the goal on individual achievement, and encourage learners to display their personality. They will learn through obtaining “my discovery.” In second stage, set the goal on interpersonal achievement, and encourage learners to display their personality and understand others by having conversation. They will learn through obtaining “your discovery.” In third stage, set the goal on collaborative achievement, and encourage learners to make a result with others by having collaboration. They will learn through obtaining “our discovery.”

Note that this solution is consistent with the theory of learning suggested by Y. Engeström[4], which is the extended theory of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) hypothesis proposed by L. S. Vygotsky[5], the model of learning is expanding their capacity, skill, concepts and so on.


Learners expand their capacity in stages. In first stage, namely in the stage for personal achievement, learners become to be willing to tell their own idea and opinion. In second stage, namely in the stage for interpersonal achievement, learners become to recognize ideas and opinions of others and expand their perspective. In third stage, namely in the stage for collaborative achievement, learners become to take ideas and opinions of others and synthesize them to make their result.


For instance, Tokyo Community School designs the curriculum for elementary school students based on Discovery-Driven Expanding (Discovery-Driven Expanding), where children expand meta-cognitive thinking gradually through six-years accumulation of learning as follows.

In first and second grades, the class entitled “I am Special” offers students to reflect his/her life and aware that he/she has individual autonomy. In the class, a teacher has students observe himself/herself and interview his/her family in order to know his/her special characteristics. They finally draw “my portrait map” as a summary of their own discovery. Learning through “my discovery” provides a starting point for successive discoveries in the future and enhancing their self-efficiency.

In third and fourth grades, the class entitled “Balanced Nutrition” offers students to think about food nutrition. In the class, students design his/her original lunch with using his/her favorites and recommending ingredients. They finally cook it and hold a tasting party. In the party, students taste others’ lunch and will think, “Your discovery is great!” Learning through “your discovery” provides opportunity for students to recognize the uniqueness of him/her and also others.

In fifth and sixth grades, the class entitled “Future Funeral” offers students to imagine their future. In the class, they write drama scenario of the future together, which is a story that their former teacher will dead thirty years later. The finally perform based on the scenario as a drama. Learning through “our discovery” provides opportunity for students to recognize the power of collaboration.


  1. Iba, T., Ichikawa, C., Sakamoto, M., & Yamazaki, T. (2011). Pedagogical patterns for creative learning. In Proceedings of the 18th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2011) (p. 28). New York:ACM.
  2. Mentioned in Harashima, Y., Kubota, T., & Iba, T. (2014). Creative education patterns: designing for learning by creating. In Proceedings of the 19th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2014) (p. 7). New York:ACM.
  3. Norman, D. A., & Spohrer, J. C. (1996). Learner-centered education. Communications of the ACM, 39(4), 24-27.
  4. Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by Expanding. An Activity- theoretical approach to developmental research, Helsinki: OrientaKonsultit.
  5. Vygotsky, L. S. (1980). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA:Harvard university press.