Tutor-marked Project: Concept Program

Note: Please do not choose a topic used in the assignment samples provided on the course website.

We wish to give you a wide range of options for both concepts and choice of learner populations for which your concept program is intended. For example, you could select a concept taught in one of your university courses and develop a conceptual exercise akin to the conceptual exercises included in this course. Should you choose this route, the learner population would be students who enroll in that course. (However, please do not select one of the concepts taught in Psychology 387, because we have already provided these for you and we would like to see instead some original work on your part.) If you are interested in teaching younger children, you may choose a concept appropriate for children of a given skill level, such as colour naming for a preschool population. Select a concept from a subject matter area that interests you, that you feel will be valuable to teach. You are encouraged to select your own concept but check with your tutor to determine whether the concept is appropriate.

Here are some examples of concepts from outside the field of psychology:

  • irony or allegory in literature. (At times, teachers of English do not employ the principles of concept learning in teaching literary devices. Students may be expected to make rather complex conceptual discriminations after exposure to only a single example and no non-examples.)
  • metre in poetry. (Tennyson and his colleagues used concept programming to teach students iambic pentameter, one type of meter.)
  • Darwinian Evolution (versus Lamarckian Evolution).
  • elasticity of demand in economics.
  • matriarchal and patriarchal societies in anthropology.
  • blitzkrieg warfare.
  • Substance abuse disorders in psychiatry.
  • art deco in design.

Required Components of a Concept Program

  1. Concept definition and analysis of variable features

Define the concept, specifying each critical feature.

Specify the variable properties of the concept, especially those which are commonly correlated with the critical features.

  1. Teaching examples and non-examples

Construct a set of examples and non-examples. Examples should contain all the critical features of the concept and non-examples should lack only a single critical feature. A variety of variable features should be present in both examples and non-examples.

You may wish to use matched and divergent example/non-example pairs, as discussed in the text. (Note: In some cases use of matched pairs is unnecessary and excessively time-consuming. For these reasons, we have not used matched pairs in most of the conceptual exercises in this course.)

The number of examples and non-examples you use should range from six to ten, depending on the number (and difficulty) of the critical features of your concept.

  1. Analysis of examples and non-examples: For each example or non-example you construct, you should include a brief explanation of why the illustration qualifies as an example or fails to do so based on the presence or absence of the critical features of the concept. These analysis statements would be presented to the learner with the illustrations or would follow student response to the illustrations (i.e., as feedback).
  2. Test items

Construct a set of test items consisting of examples and non-examples of the concept you have taught. Also include an answer key for the test items.

If the concept program has been properly designed and is appropriate for the learner’s skill level, learners should be able to achieve 90% mastery of the test items. The 10% error rate allows for minor inadequacies in both program design and learner response (e.g., lapses in attention). If a 100% mastery criterion were essential (e.g., as in teaching surgical procedures or nuclear power plant operation), the program and the conditions influencing the learner could be modified further.

Contact your tutor if you have any difficulties with this assignment. You may take the final exam before this assignment is graded and returned to you.


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