Conceptual Teaching in Primary Social Studies: Teaching the Primary Three Reader,“Making the Little Red Dot Blue and Brown” in a Conceptual Way, pp. 4 of 10

Deductive Strategies

The Merrill-Tennyson Strategy and Gagne Strategy are two examples of deductive strategies for teaching concepts. The Merrill-Tennyson Strategy (Merrill & Tennsyon, 1977 in Van Cleaf, 1991, p 221) comprises four steps. Firstly, teacher will commence by first defining the concept in focus which will include stating the critical attributes of the concept. Secondly, teacher will give an expository presentation of a series of appropriate examples and non-examples. Examples and non-examples will be paired and presented, beginning with the straight forward ones that clearly reflect the critical attributes, followed by the less obvious examples and non-examples. During the presentation, teacher should explicitly identify the critical attributes in the examples that are related to the concept when teaching pupils. Thirdly, teacher provides pupils with a practice whereby additional examples and non-examples are given; and pupils are asked to classify them as either examples or non-examples. From the practice, teacher will be able to receive feedback on pupil learning; and pupil learning will be strengthened with the additional practice. The strategy concludes with the final step in the form of a test. Pupils are required to categorise an additional set of examples and non-examples appropriately.   

In the Gagne Strategy (Gagne, 1965 in Van Cleaf, 1991, p 220), teacher will present three examples of a concept and three non-examples in alternate fashion and state explicitly that they are the examples and non-examples of a particular concept. Additional examples and non-examples are then provided for pupil classification. Correct classification will be indicative of pupil understanding. It is unnecessary for teacher to provide a formal definition of the concept in focus according to Gagne (1965) as he believed that pupils would have learnt the concept through observation and listening to the teacher during lesson.  

Inductive Strategies   

The Taba Strategy and Concept-Attainment Strategy are two examples of inductive strategies for teaching concepts. In the Taba Strategy for concept formation (Taba, 1967 in Van Cleaf, 1991, p 222), teacher begins by asking pupils to brainstorm a list of things linked to a topic, and then, they will have to categorise these things into sub-groups. They will have to identify the critical attributes for the sub-groups and think of a name for their sub-groups. They will then need to justify their groupings and state a definition and description for each sub-group.  

In the Concept-Attainment Strategy by Reinhartz and Van Cleaf (1986 in Van Cleaf, 1991, p 223), teacher will present pupils with a minimum of five sets of examples and non-examples in alternate fashion.  They will be paired with the best ones being presented first followed by the more difficult ones. Teacher will need to tell the class that the examples have something in common for pupils to infer the critical attributes that exist in the examples and to guess what the concept would be. After showing the sets, pupils will be asked next to provide their own examples and non-examples. From their responses, teacher will be able to tell whether pupils have discovered the concept or not. Pupils will then be asked to name the concept and provide their own definitions. A class discussion will ensue whereby teacher will ask pupils to explain how the examples and non-examples relate to the identified concept.

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

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