Concept-based learning is an approach which excites me- it moves away from subject specific content and instead focuses on ‘big ideas’ that span various subject areas. For example, children may learn about ‘change’. They may do this through change of value in mathematics, change of leaders in history and through studying the life cycle in sciences.
This form of learning is said to encourage pupils to think about content and facts at a much deeper level.Further, it mandates more critical thinking at increasingly higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. (Erickson, 2012). The diagrams below show the 2D and 3D models of learning; the latter being concept-based. It illustrates that there is more to learning than memorising facts, and suggests that with concept-based learning comes a whole range of new skills.
It is important for us as educators to see the clear difference between a topic and a concept. Concepts can be taught in any classroom, no matter what the content includes. A concept is a broad idea that is both universal and timeless, and should drive pupils towards higher levels of thinking.
Growing up with the 3-18 curriculum, and latterly the CfE, where the results we get in our exams seem to determine our futures, I find it tricky to understand how concept-based learning can be assessed. This is something I most look forward to seeing in practice, during my time in a school which have adopted the IB curriculum, next year.