Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaching Concepts with Examples and (free) ConceptTutor

I recently came across a quick article, "Six Proven Ways to Use Examples and Non-Examples" by Connie Malamed that describes a variety of techniques for effectively using examples to teach concepts.
You'll want to read the entire article, but here are Malamed's ideas for effectively teaching with examples:

Rule #1: Use examples in which the irrelevant attributes vary widely
Rule #2: Progress from simple to difficult examples 

Rule #3: Present instances of a concept in rapid sequence or allow all instances to be viewed simultaneously
Rule#4: Use matched examples and non-examples for concepts with related attributes

Rule #5: Provide opportunities for learners to generate their own examples of a concept

Rule #6: Expose learners to a wide range of examples and non-examples and allow them to discover the concept

This article reminded me of a wonderfully simple yet powerful tool that can help instructors or instructional designers create learning modules centered on learning conceptual knowledge. ConceptTutor Plus, freely available from the University of Wisconsin's Engage program, is a tool that "promotes effective learning through the use of definitions, examples and non-examples contextual information, and self-check quizzes."
Example content created with ConceptTutor

ConceptTutor creates collections of html files and media that can easily be uploaded to an LMS course site or any web server.

One powerful learning exercise is for students to create their own ConceptTutor modules as a way of demonstrating their own mastery of key concepts.

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