Concept building

Henderson, Deborah J. (2011) Concept building. In Marsh, Colin & Hart, Catherine (Eds.) Teaching the Social Sciences and Humanities in an Australian Curriculum. Pearson Australia, Sydney, pp. 107-127.

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In this world of continuous change, there’s probably one certainty: more change lies ahead. Our students will encounter challenges and opportunities that we can’t even imagine. How do we prepare our students as future citizens for the challenges of the 21st century? One of the most influential public intellectuals of our time, Howard Gardner, suggests that in the future individuals will depend to a great extent on the capacity to synthesise large amounts of information. ‘They will need to be able to gather together information from disparate sources and put it together in ways that work for themselves and can be communicated to other persons’(Gardner 2008, p. xiii). One of the first steps in ‘putting things together’ so they ‘work’ in the mind is ‘to group objects and events together on the basis of some similarity between them’ (Lee & das Gupta 1995, p. 116). When we do this and give them a collective name, we are conceptualising. Apart from helping to save our sanity by simplifying the vast amounts of data we encounter every day, concepts help us to understand and gain meaning from what we experience. Concepts are essential for synthesising information and they also help us to communicate with others. Put simply, concepts serve as building blocks for knowledge, understanding and communication. This chapter addresses the importance of teaching and learning about concepts and conceptual development in studies of society and environment. It proceeds as follows: first, it considers how individuals use concepts, and, second, it explores the characteristics of concepts; the third section presents a discussion of approaches that might be adopted by teachers intending to help their students build concepts in the classroom.

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ID Code: 38925
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: social sciences, social education, concepts, humanities, teaching and learning
ISBN: 9781442533615
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Economics Business and Management) (130205)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators (130313)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Pearson Australia
Copyright Statement: The Copyright Act 1968 of Australia allows a maximum of one chapter or 10% of this book, whichever is the greater, to be copied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that that educational institution (or the body that administers it) has given a
remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act. For details of the CAL licence for educational institutions contact: Copyright Agency Limited, telephone: (02) 9394 7600, email: All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Copyright Act 1968 of Australia and subsequent amendments, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
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Deposited On: 29 Nov 2010 21:39
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2010 14:51

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