How Does The Concept Attainment Model Work?

In the concept attainment process, new ideas are introduced–and defined by students–inductively through the “act(s) of categorization” (Bruner, Goodnow, and Austin 1956:244). Students see attributes, examples and non-examples, form theories, and then test those theories against the data given until they are able to able to name the idea.

This reverses the typical process of introducing an idea (e.g., gravity) by narrowly defining it (e.g., the force that attracts a body toward another physical body having mass). The Concept Attainment process requires learners to focus on attributes, categories, and relationships rather than simply mirroring an idea with a definition.

In the STEM field–one marked by change, uncertainty, and new (and often unfamiliar) ideas–this conceptual approach is a tidy fit for teaching.