Video: Concept Attainment

Concept Attainment is probably my favorite model of instruction. It takes the opposite road of direct instruction, and forces students to make their own connections. It builds drama, gives students ownership, and is plain old fun.

Here’s a video explaining the steps (and testing my new camera!):

Can’t see the video, visit its page.

Basic Steps

  1. Introduce three examples of Column A and three for Column B
  2. Add three or four uncategorized examples. Students categorize these first, then discuss, revealing answers.
  3. Ask for the attributes and patterns of both columns. Students form a temporary definition.
  4. Reveal the actual titles of each column, giving a true definition.
  5. Practice the concept independently or in small groups.

Best For

Concept Attainment only works when the concept is easily separated into examples and non-examples. I use it frequently in teaching grammar, but it wouldn’t work at all to instruct long division.

In grammar, it makes for an interesting way to teach about sentences with and without direct objects. Adverbs and adjectives are another possible subject. Complex and compound sentences could also be taught using concept attainment.

In math, concept attainment would be beautiful for differentiating quadrilaterals. For more advanced students, you could differentiate between expressions that lead to positive integers versus negative integers.