Facts, Concepts, and Generalizations or Big Ideas

Explanations, examples, and instructional ideas

Facts:

Fact is something that actually exists or existed, object or event, and can be verified by observation. Facts are single occurrences.

Examples:

Concepts

Concept - An idea about a particular phenomenon people abstract from specific experiences. The idea includes all the properties that distinguish examples of the concept from all the non examples of the concept.

Examples:

Flowering plants have flowers that develop into fruits, roots, stems, and leaves.

The following are also concepts: area, volume, density, flowers, energy, light, magnifying glass, animals, rock, soil, erosion, magnet, force,

Concepts summarize and categorize objects. The difficulty of learning a concept depends on the number of properties or characteristics, the abstractness or concreteness, and the reasoning that connects the properties or characteristics.

The abstractness of a concept is related to how the concept can be experienced.

Concepts are best introduced through physical observation and manipulation (hands on exploration). Followed by a grand conversation; that provides a concept name, other examples, and non examples. Some concepts can be experienced at all three levels: temperature hot - cold to touch, concrete as read on a thermometer, and the abstractness of average kinetic molecular energy.

Concepts can be made more concrete by defining them operationally.

Generalizations or Big Ideas

Generalizations are statements of a relationship between two or more concepts.

Examples:

Generalizations are summary statements of relationships between concepts, summary statements of cause and effect, summary statements of predictions of future relationships, and a generalized condition of fact, all dogs have canines.

Notice generalizations require understanding of each concept to have meaning.

Generalizations are powerful as they provide a way to consolidate information to make it more usable and easier to remember. Laws, principals, and theories are all kinds of generalizations. These generalizations require the connection of concepts by a relationship.

Relationships can only be built with direct observational evidence and reasoning. Good teaching practices will mediate both.

More examples:

 

See planning and concept mapping.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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