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This is a team-based classroom activity designed for Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL). Teams of 3-4 students work together--and offline--to explore how text searches work using the classic poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant, as the search target. Groups work through different search approaches to better understand how computers search through text.

This is part one of a two part series on POGIL Search. Part II can be found here. The attached file is the student version of the activity. Please contact the author (Clif Kussmaul, for the teacher versions with solutions and additional information.


While students are working, you should circulate around the room, observe whether students follow their assigned POGIL roles, listen to how students discuss and think, and answer any questions they may have. You'll learn a lot about misconceptions and you'll get to know individual students better. This personal interaction with the instructor can be a powerful way to encourage persistence in computing.

For more info on how to implement a POGIL activity, check out Clif and Helen Hu's POGIL "Teaching Paper" in this collection. Also, please go to the CS-POGIL website and community ( For general info on POGIL, see The POGIL Project ( Also, consider attending a 1/2-day or 1-day POGIL workshop or a 3-day POGIL Summer Regional Workshop to learn more about how to effectively facilitate a POGIL classroom and develop effective POGIL activities.

Engagement Highlights

Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) is a structured collaborative learning activity that can foster inclusive student community, a key principle in broadening participation in computing. It is important that students understand the importance of each of the roles in POGIL e.g., facilitator, recorder, presenter and reflector, and that they switch roles regularly. Faculty should circulate through the room as students work to encourage them to keep to the structure of POGIL.

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