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Concept Attainment Model

Riley Jennings
EDC 311

Is about

Students developing and elaborating concepts and developing students critical thinking skills.

Theory and Plan

Theory: It is based on cognitive
learning theory; illustrates the
scientific method
Identify Topics: choose a topic the
students already are somewhat
familiar with and then go d eeper
with it
Specify Learning Objectives: The
learning objective should be to
develop and elaborate concepts
and possibly the relationships
among them, for a concept o r set
of concepts the students are
already superficially familiar with.
Examples and Non-Examples:
Select examples that b est illustrate
the characteristics of the concept,
tangible examples are good. Select
non-examples that highlight the
differences and nuances of your
specific concept.
Sequence Examples and Non-
Examples: Mix up the examples
and non-examples, but they do not
necessarily have to alternate. Start
with less obvious examples and
non-examples to challenge and
excite the students and give them a
chance to get wrong h ypotheses


Intro: Explain very clearly which
things written on the board are
examples and n on-examples and
that means the examples DO
illustrate the concept and the
non-examples do NOT illustrate
the concept, and its the s tudents
job to find the concept
Examples and Hypothesizing: go
through the examples and non-
examples and get s tudents to
offer h ypotheses and offer
guiding questions if they b ecome
The Analysis Circle: Evaluate
hypotheses as you introduce
more examples and n on-
examples, keep a running list of
hypotheses on the board and as
they are eliminated one b y one
simply cross them out.
Closure and Application: when
students isolate one h ypothesis
the lesson may end and the
students should assign specific
characteristics to the concept,
coming up with their own
concrete d efinition, and the
teacher may give additional

Assessment and

Assessment: to test students

knowledge and
understanding of a concept
taught using this m odel, a
teacher can a sk the students
to define the concept, identify
the concepts characteristics,
relate the concept to other
concepts, and identify or
supply new and undiscussed
examples of the concept. You
can also test their critical
thinking abilities by giving
them a list of examples and
non-examples that have two
possible hypotheses, a sking
for those, giving another
examples and non-examples
and eliminating one
hypothesis and asking for a
student narrative of all of that
Motivation: this m odel lends
itself to group work, which a
lot of students find
motivating, but the sheer
challenge this model presents
is usually a decent m otivator
in itself

Younger Students: require more
concrete examples and its
better to use more positive
examples rather than non-
Culturally Diverse Students:
group work can h elp alleviate
self consciousness for students
that fear b eing mocked for a
wrong answer b ecause of
cultural d ifferences. It is also
incredibly important for the
teacher to foster an
environment of respect and
trust so that no answers are
made fun of.
Concept Attainment II: basically
the same but emphasis is more
on hypothesis testing and critical
thinking, all examples and non-
examples are presented a t once
Concept Attainment III: extends
hypothesis testing further;
students provide possible
hypotheses but then also must
provide their own examples and
non-examples to illustrate
suggested hypothesis

So What?? This model really emphasizes independent student thought and growth and students ability to think through
situations and make connections.