Developing concepts

When designing learning, the nature of the learning objective will largely determine the approach you use.

The teaching and learning models that are effective in meeting these types of learning objective are often called ‘cognitive‘, but are also referred to as ‘information processing’.

Cognitive approaches are tightly structured sequences and include models that require learners to think and reason in specific ways. By engaging in these sequences learners also develop their thinking and learning skills.

Models include:

  • inductive;
  • enquiry;
  • concept attainment;
  • visualisation;
  • using metaphor.

The impact of these models is increased when due attention is given to the inclusion of plenaries that require learners to reflect on their reasoning, how it has helped them solve problems and in which other situations they might use these types of reasoning.

Developers in this area include Taba, Joyce, Bruner, Schwabb and Ausubel.

Inductive teaching, also referred to as classifying, is a means of helping learners to solve problems. Learners are presented with an array of data and asked to sort and classify it, so generating a hypothesis or rule. For example, when provided with a number of words containing ‘i’ and ‘e’, they may hypothesis that there appears to be a spelling rule ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’. This can be further tested by examining new words to see whether they fit the pattern. The process requires learners to think inductively by generating and testing the hypothesis.

Enquiry requires learners to set and test hypotheses. An observation of an event may require learners to speculate and hypothesis about possible causes and then to gather evidence to test the hypothesis. This requires learners to think deductively.

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