The Concept Attainment Technique


This powerful technique, used for helping students to develop their understanding of a particular concept, involves slowly revealing pairs of statements, ideas, pictures (whatever) one of which embodies a particular concept and one of which doesn't. Make the fact that you are trying to get over a particular concept explicit, and challenge students to articulate the concept.

It may well be that they formulate an understanding of the concept without knowing the name for the concept.  This is what makes the technique potentially very powerful - they can "understand" something before having a name for it.

You can then lead a discussion about how each of the earlier guesses relate to the "correct" concept, strengthening understanding of that concept.
Head up the columns of the pairs as "Example of this concept" and "Not an example of this concept" on the whiteboard, then slowly reveal the pairs one by one, with thinking time in between.  For younger learners you might use "What's the big idea?" with Yes and No columns instead.

4 comments:

  1. Teacher: Lucy

    I tried this with a yr 11 class. I wanted pupils to pick words from a poem connected with comfort and discomfort and was going to tell them this. Instead I gave them 1 example of each and got them to guess the categories. This led to some discussion and they were engaged even before the task started!

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  2. Class: Reception
    Teacher: Sophie
    Lesson took 15 minutes to prepare

    I used this tool in my reception class they responded as well to visual stimulus. They were presented two different pictures one that showed healthy eating ideas eg healthy foods and one that showed not so healthy foods. They were to discuss their ideas of each pictures and decide which one they think we would be focusing on for the term.
    This activity was used to introduce the term Topics of Healthy Eating
    Great way to start of a topic with showing images to spark ideas and conversation. I also recorded children’s ideas as they were talking as to add to their profile books.

    Pupil engagement [4 ]
    Pupil enjoyment [4 ]
    Pupils meeting lesson objectives [4 ]
    Suitability of technique for the content being delivered [4 ]
    How much YOU enjoyed using this technique [4 ]

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  3. Name of teacher: Tom
    Tool used: What's the big idea / telling a story
    Time taken to prepare (in minutes): 30 mins
    Class: Year 1
    Date: 24th June, 2007
    Period: 1

    Please give a brief description of how you adapted this tool for use in your classroom, the resources you produced, the subject content, what questions you used with the tool etc.
    We were comparing similarities and differences between 2 countries. Children were expected to identify and categorise features of certain countries. For this activity we compared the USA and the UK and the children had to examine large pics on the WB and quickly point which country they thought it showed. If there was confusion, we discussed.

    How did you use the strategy (e.g. starter, main activity, in groups, as homework etc)? What was the response from students? This was a plenary activity and the response again was good. They liked the bold visuals and learning about America.

    What advice would you give to another teacher wishing to use this tool (shortcuts, pitfalls, changes you would make etc)?
    Be prepared for debate over certain pictures and try to break the whole class pointing up a bit, otherwise some children just watch where the rest of the class is pointing. So think of ways to make sure everyone is responding truthfully and can justify their choices.

    Pupil engagement [4]
    Pupil enjoyment [3]
    Pupils meeting lesson objectives [3 ]
    Suitability of technique for the content being delivered [3]
    How much YOU enjoyed using this technique [3 ]

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  4. Class: Year 6 RE
    Name of teacher: Colleen
    Time taken to prepare (in minutes): 20 mins

    Please give a brief description of how you adapted this tool for use in your classroom, the resources you produced, the subject content, what questions you used with the tool etc.
    We looked at pairs of statements (about forgiveness) and as each pair of statements was revealed, the students had to guess what the theme of the lesson was going to be. They came up with a lot of ideas around, forgiveness, respect and being the bigger person.

    How did you use the strategy (e.g. starter, main activity, in groups, as homework etc)?
    This was a starter for a lesson on the Parable of the Lost Son and generated a lot of discussion around what you could and couldn't forgive.


    Pupil engagement [4]
    Pupil enjoyment [3]
    Pupils meeting lesson objectives [3 ]
    Suitability of technique for the content being delivered [3]
    How much YOU enjoyed using this technique [3 ]

    ReplyDelete

(Please post when you have tried this particular tool - thanks!)
How did you adapt this tool for your classroom?
What was the response from your learners?
What advice would you give other teachers about this tool?