Teaching for Conceptual Understanding

there are two ways to think about learning a traditional perspective sees students as empty vessels students wait for the teacher to point out the facts and ideas they should collect in their jars students hold all the facts in their heads until they dump them out to prove they have retain them there’s another way to look at learning in concept based learning students began not as empty vessels but instead with their own pre-existing ideas similar to a stone waiting to be salted as we learned which is Allah way our ideas until they become more sophisticated clear precise complex and accurate at the end we have a profound well thought out idea of our own construction and the second way of learning the students are doing the work and benefiting from it not the teacher but how do you help students discover and refine these ideas the secret is simple just two words and cover and transfer to help students uncover an idea start with an abstract question if you’re studying the concept of ecosystems for example we might start with a question like what is the relationship between human actions and ecosystems have students share their initial thoughts one might say people can hurt the environment a good start but it’s not complete now investigate a specific context that illustrates that conceptual relationship for example before a station in the Amazon from this students understand that human actions can directly devastate an ecosystem and contribute to the loss of certain species transfer is the next step of the process introduced a different example that will add a more nuanced understanding than they had before for example next you might investigate the effects humans have on ocean students will learn that human waste can end up in oceans and harm sea life also threatening species this is more of an indirect impact adding even more nuance and complexity to their understanding to assess students understanding at the conceptual relationship let’s transfer again to the Arctic Ocean and have students hypothesize about the impact of global temperatures throughout this process of uncovering conceptual relationships and transferring to new situations students should start to recognize a pattern rather than seeing smaller individual ecosystems students understand the earth is an entire giant system where human actions may have a great impact as you can’t reduce more and more examples students understanding grows bigger deeper and more complex this deep understanding of how the world works and the ability to transfer ideas to new context is an essential skill that allows students to become creators problem solvers and innovators

3 thoughts on “Teaching for Conceptual Understanding”

  1. This was essentially considered the cutting edge when I completed my teaching degree 10 years ago. However, lately there's been this regressive push towards ideas such as cognitive load theory that have the trappings of science but without the reliability or measurability. Good video and very clear.

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