Understanding Concepts

Teacher's Guide To Implement Concept-Based Learning In 4 Steps

  • Mar 28, 2022
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 Teacher's Guide To Implement Concept-Based Learning In 4 Steps

One of the most common questions that adults ask themselves is, did we ever use what we learned in school? We think about the nights before our final exams, where we sat cramming the entire night, learning about centrifugal force or integration. What was it even worth? This situation captures the importance of concept-based learning and why we should adopt this approach while teaching our students. 

What is Concept-Based Learning?

Concept-based learning focuses education around the central question: Why should students know or be able to do something? Here, teachers ask the students to study certain concepts and then discuss them in class. This approach helps students think about the concept, rather than just memorizing facts and figures. When a student understands a concept instead of learning it word for word, it’s easier for them to connect these concepts to other relevant topics.

Guide to Implementing Concept-Based Learning In Classrooms

Step 1: Bird’s Eye View

As an educator, the beginning step is to figure out the higher-level goal that you would like the student to learn. If the topic is global warming, identify clear objectives. To simplify it further, ask yourself “why”. Why is your student having to learn this as part of the curriculum? Visually speaking, we are approaching the curriculum in a top-down manner - a bird's eye view. 

Step 2: Sky-Dive Into Specifics 

After you have identified the larger goal, you can now dive into the specifics. In this step, you need to figure out the relevant sub-topics. For example, if we are trying to understand the current state of global warming, we can now dive into the specific sub-topics. These could include the definition of global warming, the reasons it exists, country-wise contribution, steps for countries to cut back, etc. 

Step 3: Connect the Dots

There is a difference between learning about an apple individually versus learning the definition of fruit and then learning the different kinds. It’s easier to make connections when we know that common factor. Concept-based learning can help us find that common factor because every topic is connected by a higher goal. This also helps with recall later and definitely beats learning about random facts. 

Step 4: Application 

When you apply concept-based learning in the classroom, the first order of business is to choose a concept for your students to learn and give them a few minutes to reflect on it. After this, split them into different groups and ask them to discuss what they have understood about that concept. Borrowing from the earlier discussion, let’s say that your class is on global warming. 

Here are a few important concept-based learning questions that your students should answer in their discussion -

  • Why are we learning this? (bird’s eye view)
  • What connection can we make between this and, say, rising sea levels? (connect the dots)
  • Where else can we apply this information? 

By repeatedly inculcating this exercise of being able to answer these three questions, it will enable your students to seek deeper meaning in education. Giving them different case studies over time will also help. After they are done with the discussion, it’s your time to shine. You can quickly recap all of the important points that have been discussed and go into detail about the various sub-topics they have previously identified. 

In a nutshell, concept-based learning encourages students to think about important topics and gives them enough time to reflect on what they already know about them, before new knowledge comes into play. It promotes active learning rather than passive learning because students need to reflect and think about concepts instead of just listening to lectures. Hence, this approach can really encourage students to put their thinking caps on and achieve their full potential.

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