Module 3: Concept Classification


Basic Methods of Instruction

1.Kinds of Learning
2.Invariant Tasks
3.Concept Classification
4.Procedure Using
5.Principle Using
7.Generic Skills

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- Copyright 1999 by Charles M. Reigeluth. All rights reserved -

What is the Nature of Knowledge?

There are two major kinds of knowledge: 
  • Knowledge of things (descriptive knowledge) and 
  • Knowledge of changes in things (productive knowledge). 

  • Each of these kinds of knowledge can occur in either of two forms (see Figure 3.1): 

    Particulars are single, unique cases, often referred to as referents, examples or instances.

    Generalities are statements which apply to more than one particular. 

    Particulars Generalities
    Facts, Information, 
    Facts, Information, 
    Figure 3.1. Kinds of Knowledge
    Things. Particulars of things are instancesof concepts, and include objects (e.g., one particular computer), actions (e.g., one particular debate), ideas (e.g., one particular thought), and symbols (e.g., one particular fraction). Generalities of things are what we usually call definitionsof concepts. 

    Changes. Particulars of changes are instances of procedures and principles, and include specific events, like the evaporation of a puddle on my driveway last Sunday, the growing of a particular flower from a seed in front of my neighbor's house, and my son's writing of an essay last Tuesday night. Generalities of changes are what we usually call statements of principles and procedures. 

    It is helpful to distinguish between what content is learned and on what level it is learned: 

    Content (what is learned) can be classified in accordance with the type of knowledge. Concepts and facts represent knowledge of things, and principles and procedures represent knowledge of changes. 

    Level of learning can be classified as memorization, understanding, or application.

    As defined by instructional designers, a concept is a group or class of things which have something in common, such as plants, animals, reptiles, snakes, essays. But a concept can be a class of events, ideas (including values), or symbols, rather than just a class of things: football game, word processing, justice, compassion, fraction, and % sign are all concepts. Particulars can be grouped in many different ways. For example, trees can be classified according to their genus (birches, oaks, etc.), their age (seedlings, saplings, etc.), their climate (tropical, subtropical, etc.), and so on. So concepts are arbitrary groupings which are inventedby people. Concepts don't really exist; the only tangible evidences of them are their instances (or examples) and their definitions. 

    Be careful not to confuse concepts with principles. The term "concept" is often used in common language to refer to principles. When people talk about the "concepts of science", they are usually talking about principles, which instructional designers define as change relationshipsóindications of the relationship between two or more changes. 

    Levels of Learning for Concepts

    There are three major ways that a concept can be learned. You can memorize itóeither its definition, or a particular instance and its name. You can understand itóbe able to describe it in your own words and explain its relationship to other things you know. Or you can learn to apply it in new (previously unencountered) situations. This third type of behavior is what we call skill application. In this lesson we are only concerned with one of the three levels of learning for concepts: applying them, which is commonly called concept classification. 


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    This file was last updated on March 10, 1999 by Byungro Lim
    Copyright 1999, Charles M. Reigeluth Credit