Concept Attainment

This model describes the steps in teaching the meaning of a concept by presenting positive and negative examples of the concept, until students can identify the essential attributes and state a concept definition.

1.       Select and define a concept.  The definition should be clear and the attributes should be identifiable.

2.       Select the attributes.  Attributes should only include the qualities essential to the concept.

3.       Develop positive and negative examples.  Positive examples must contain all the essential attributes, yet they may contain some non-essential ones as well that gradually become eliminated.  Negative examples may contain some of, but not all, the essential attributes.

4.       Introduce the process to the students.

5.       Present the examples and have students list the attributes.  Positive and Negative attributes should be listed separately.  Cross out items in the positive list when a new positive example does not contain the attribute.

6.       Develop a concept definition.  Students should write this using the positive attributes.

7.      Give additional examples of the concept to ensure understanding. 

8.      Discuss the process with the class.  Making sure that students understand how they arrived at the definition helps them to see how concepts are formed, which they will hopefully transfer to other situations encountered in their life.