CONCEPT ATTAINMENT – SEQUENCE OF ESSENTIAL TEACHING STEPS
Phase One: Presentation of Data and Identification of Concept
A. Teacher presents labeled examples.
B. Students compare attributes in positive and negative examples.
C. Students generate and test hypotheses.
D. Students state a definition according to the essential attributes.
Phase Two: Testing Attainment of the Concept
A. Students identify additional unlabeled examples as yes or no.
B. Teacher confirms hypotheses, names concept, and restates definitions according to essential attributes.
C. Students generate examples
Phase Three: Analysis of Thinking Strategies
A. Students describe thoughts.
B. Students discuss role of hypotheses and attributes.
C. Students discuss type and number of hypotheses.
(Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2009)
CONCEPT ATTAINMENT QUICK FACTS
1. Concept attainment is the search for and listing of attributes that can be be used to distinguish exemplars from nonexemplars of various categories.
2. Concept attainment requires a student to figure out the attributes of a category that is already formed in another person’s mind by comparing and contrasting examples (called exemplars) that contain the characteristics (called attributes) of the concept with examples that do not contain those attributes.
3. The key to understanding the strategies students use to attain concepts is to analyze how they approach the information available in the exemplars.
4. Data are presented to the students in the form of sets of items called exemplars, for instance, a set of poems. They are labeled “positive” exemplars if they have characteristics or attributes of the concept to be taught (for example, the sonnet form). The exemplars are labeled “negative” if they do not contain the attributes of the concept (for example, poems that do not have all the attributes of sonnet).
5. Negative exemplars are important because they help the students identify the boundaries of the concept.
6. Prior to teaching with the concept attainment model, the teacher chooses the concept, selects and organizes the material into positive and negative examples, and sequences the examples.
7. During the flow of the lesson, the teacher needs to be supportive of the students’ hypotheses – emphasizing, however, that they are hypothetical in nature – and to create a dialogue in which students test their hypotheses against each others’.
8. the concept attainment model can not only introduce extended series of inquiries into important areas, but it can also augment ongoing inductive studies.
9. Concept attainment strategies provide practice in inductive reasoning and opportunities for altering and improving students’ concept-building strategies.
(Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2009)
This is a link to a two page pdf document that addresses topics such as: uses of the strategy, what is a concept, methods, variations, deciding on a concept that you want students to learn, identifying critical attributes, and exploring possible data samples.
This is a link to a step by step guide that answers the following questions: What is concept attainment? Why use concept attainment? How do I use concept attainment in my classroom? It also provides sources and an example of an elementary school level concept attainment lesson.
This link contains a Concept Attainment lesson for 7th Graders over the topic of classifying insects.