As a part of learning, we do book reviews. Each of us reads a book and discusses what works and what does not. This week we reviewed the topic “How to Teach Concepts” from the book “Developing Technical Training” by Ruth Colvin Clark. It’s a very interesting book indeed and I highly recommend it to eLearning professionals.
Here are a few tips to teach a concept:
Start a concept with a definition. The definition should include critical features of that concept.
For instance, if we take the concept of an aircraft, we can define it as ‘a vehicle which carries one or more persons, that has wings and travels through the air’.
Once we define a concept, give an example (if the concept is simple) or a couple of examples (if the concept is complex). We give examples to make the definition more clear.
Some of the examples of an aircraft could be helicopters, executive jets, airliners.
After providing an example, we need to give non-examples. Non-examples are closely related to concepts, but they may be confused with the lesson concept.
The non-examples of an aircraft could include parachutes, rockets, and missiles.
Another good way of teaching concepts is using analogies. An analogy is a representation that corresponds with a concept in function or form but which is otherwise dissimilar. A bird can be taken as an analogy for an aircraft.
Pie or cake analogy to teach fractions is a classic example!
Remember that a misplaced analogy is more damaging than no analogy.
- We must provide definition and examples. If possible provide non-examples and analogies.
If you have any other ideas or tips to teach concepts, do share your thoughts.