Concept Classification/Power Tactics for Teaching

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Back to Topic: Instructional Design > Cognitive Menu > Concept Classification > Define > Learn > Teach > Routine > Power > Try > References



When a concept is difficult for the learners to learn to classify, additional tactics can be used to increase the power of the instruction. It is helpful to think of such instructional enhancement as existing for each routine tactic.


So how can the generality be strengthened? There are several ways. You can facilitate encoding by focusing the learner's attention on the important parts of it: the label and the critical characteristics. Or you can facilitate encoding by providing a variety of representations of the generality, like a diagram or a paraphrase. You can also present an algorithm (Landa, 1976), a set of steps for the learner to use in checking to see if all of the critical characteristics are present.

The most obvious way to enhance this routine tactic is to increase the number of examples. But we can also make it easier to learn from each example. Since examples are different from each other, some are likely to be harder to identify as examples of the concept. The easier examples should be presented first, followed by progressively more difficult ones. This is called an easy-to-difficult sequence. We can also use attention-focusing to relate the example to the generality by pointing out the presence or absence of critical characteristics in the example. And we can use a variety of representations for the examples, to facilitate "dual encoding" of the information.


The only ways that practice itself should be enhanced are to increase the number of practice items, to use an easy-to-difficult sequence, and to include prompting on early practice items. Otherwise, ehancements should be reserved for the feedback.


Enhancement on the feedback should be much like on the examples. We can use attention-focusing which relates the instance to the generality by pointing out the presence or absence of critical attributes. And we can use a variety of representations for the correct-answer feedback. Of course, motivational enhancement can also be used: praise for correct answers and encouragement for wrong answers.

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