Conceptual Teaching in Primary Social Studies: Teaching the Primary Three Reader,“Making the Little Red Dot Blue and Brown” in a Conceptual Way, pp. 3 of 10

In conceptual teaching, teaching is just the opposite. Conceptual teaching centres on the concepts and generalisations. Teachers need to select and reorganise specific and relevant content to support the teaching of the identified big ideas. They do not usually tell their pupils what the concepts and generalisations are; rather they guide them through appropriate inductive activities to help them arrive at an understanding of the big ideas. Teachers assist their pupils to see patterns and connections between the concepts and generalisations and linkages to the other parts of the curriculum and pupils’ lives. Pupil learning is therefore more connected and meaningful. It is also more powerful learning as there is wider applicability. It is an intellectually more sophisticated teaching and learning model compared to traditional teaching.

Advantages of Conceptual Teaching

Conceptual teaching has several advantages over traditional teaching in terms of teaching and learning. Where teaching is concerned, conceptual teaching helps to reduce content overload, raise academic standards and put teachers in the driver’s seat whereby they control rather than to be controlled by the subject matter (Twyman & Tindal, 2005). 

As for pupil learning, conceptual teaching enhances pupils’ ability to categorise information in an organised manner. It enables them to make connections across the curriculum, for example, they will be able to recognise concepts when they see them and to differentiate the examples from the non-examples. Conceptual teaching also helps pupils to gain comprehension and insights and develops their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Conceptual teaching provides the flexibility to allow pupils to search for and construct their own knowledge and to be active and self-directed learners (Twyman & Tindal, 2005). Pupils with conceptual understanding are capable of performing a variety of actions that displays their learning, and at the same time advances it. Some of these actions include explanation, prediction, synthesis, evaluation and representation of learning in novel ways.

Conceptual Teaching Approaches

Deductive and inductive strategies can be used for conceptual teaching. For deductive strategies, the definition of the concept or generalisation in focus is provided first, followed by its examples. For inductive strategies, it is just the opposite; the examples are first given before the concept definition or generalisation is stated (Van Cleaf, 1991). The specific examples for each type of strategy will be described in the subsequent sections. 

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!