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Friday, October 9, 2009

The Concept Attainment Model of Teaching

When mentoring our pre-service and in-service teachers we need to describe and model both research-based and clinical best practices. Accordingly our mentees should know about the Concept Attainment Model of Teaching.

The Concept Attainment Model of Teaching (*Arends, 2001)

The concept attainment model of teaching (**Joyce and Weil, 1972) is a teacher-directed instructional method for enabling students to determine key concepts that the teacher has selected. It is an intellectual exercise that you might call, “Guess My Concept.” In this model of instruction the teacher presents clues that are associated with her concept in one column (i.e. examples), and gives other clues in another column (i.e. non-examples) that do not relate to the concept that she has chosen. The four steps of the concept attainment model are listed in the chart below:

Four Steps of the Concept Attainment Model of Teaching



Teacher and/or Student Behavior


Get students ready to learn and clarify the objective/s of the lesson

· Teacher gets the students ready to learn.

· Teacher identifies the objective/s for the lesson, provides background information, and explains why the lesson is important.


Provide examples and non-examples of the concept

· Teacher presents two lists for the students. The first list contains examples of the concept chosen by the teacher, the second list contains non-examples of the concept.

· The teacher reveals two or three examples from each column at a time.

· Students study the lists of examples and non-examples given, and inductively guess what the concept might be.


Test for concept attainment

· The teacher presents two or three additional examples and non-examples of the concept.

· Students are invited to give their own examples and non-examples of the concept.


Analyze student thinking regarding the concept

· Teacher invites students to think about, and share how they arrived at the concept (e.g. using trial and error, identifying the roadblocks, scanning the lists, etc.).

*Arends, R. (2001). Learning to Teach. (Fifth Edition). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

** Joyce, B., & Weil, M. (1986). Models of Teaching: Third Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

On the next post we will insert a sample lesson on the concept, "things associated with the Tishrei holidays” into the four-step Concept Attainment Model of Teaching template.

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