EDU 6526: Concept Attainment Model

O – Offer an organized and challenging curriculum

O2 – Offer appropriate challenge in the content area Teacher candidates plan and/or adapt curricula that are standards driven so students develop understanding and problem-solving expertise in the content area(s) using reading, written and oral communication, and technology.

Concept attainment strategies may be utilized in the classroom to present students with learning activities using various methods of discovery and problem-solving. Knowledge developed by others can be presented to students in “data sets”. Students can then observe and reflect on this information and be “…led to discover that some items belong to a predetermined category (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015, p. 125). This method of instruction may be more memorable for students as they must go through a process of hypothesizing results, learning about factual information while also developing life skills in hypothetical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis.

Instructors may present data to students through a variety of methods but constructive learning presents a results-driven process to students and helps them build a variety of skills that can be used throughout their lives. Furthermore, discovery learning provides students with opportunities to practice using the information presented to them, further building on their cognitive development. As stated by Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun (2015):

First, we construct concept attainment exercises so that we can study how our students think. Second, the students should be able to not only describe how they attain concepts, but also learn to be more efficient by altering their strategies and learning to use new ones. Third, by changing the way we present information and by modifying the model slightly, we affect how students will process information (p. 137).

These three phases of concept attainment are outlined in figure 1. Students should develop a familiarity with the model, understanding the three phases and the process as it is practiced during the school year.

Figure 1. Three phases of concept attainment (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).

Figure 1. Three phases of concept attainment (Joyce, Weil, & Calhoun, 2015).

In the elementary classroom, this model of teaching can be utilized in many subjects. For example, in a geometry lesson, the teacher may present students with various examples of geometric figures. Students will then work in small groups or pairs with pattern blocks to compare attributes in positive and negative examples, positives being examples of four-sided figures, negatives being examples of other geometric shapes. These groups will work together to form hypothesis and verify that their conclusions are correct. Student groups then may share their conclusions on white boards with the rest of the class. Next, the teacher will present students with more positive and negative exemplars, positives being more clarified examples of rectangles, negatives being other shapes with four sides. The students repeat their observations, categorizing and hypothesizing what the outcome must be. The teacher will then confirm hypothesis and review definitions of rectangles and other quadrilaterals. Finally, the class will discuss their outcomes, how they came to their individual conclusions and of what they learned. This is an example of commonality and diversity, where students observe and document similarities and differences through observation, description, and classification. As humans are naturally accustomed to this exercise and the introduction of this concept should be accepted well by students (Scheuerman, R., 2014). Other concepts such as cause and effect, systems and patterns, cycles and change, and so on may also be utilized for diversified subjects and activities.


Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Scheuerman, R. (2014). Session 3: Concept attainment and Bloom’s taxonomy. Personal Collection of (Scheuerman, R.), Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA. Podcast retrieved from


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