The Definition Of Concept Attainment

The image above from this document via Beyond Monet/Barrie Bennet/Carol Rolheiser is a useful example of how Concept Attainment works.

It can be thought of as game of ‘find the rule.’ Concept Attainment is a ‘backward conceptualizing’ approach to making sense of new ideas. It is a teaching strategy characterized (in terms of thinking patterns of the learner) by “a pattern of decisions in the acquisition, retention, and utilization of information that serves to meet certain objectives” (Bruner et al 1956).

Linda Neff at Northern Arizona University adds that Concept Attainment is a “close relative to inductive thinking (Joyce and Weil 1967:15), (and) focuses on the decision-making and categorization processes leading up to the creation and understanding of a concept.”

Neff also explains that there are several advantages to this approach, including learning “how to examine a concept from a number of perspectives, learning how to sort out relevant information”, the benefit of seeing multiple examples of ideas, and maybe most importantly, moving beyond mere concept–definition association.

This allows for the idea to be seen in its native context, and a more authentic and fuller definition to emerge.