Defining Concepts in Your Discipline: An Activity for Students

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Department or Administrative Unit


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Students come to our classes with predetermined definitions of the concepts we teach and terms we use. We can not assume that because we give them our definitions of these concepts and terms they will embrace them and replace their previously learned knowledge. With this premise in mind, participants in this workshop will experience the following activity and then discuss how they could use this activity to define terms and concepts commonly used in their own discipline. The activity begins by recognizing beliefs and knowledge already held by the participants. While looking at twenty objects, participants are asked to independently decide whether or not the objects are art or not art. Next the activity exposes participants to the ideas of few other people. By listening to and considering other people's statements, participants are not only exposed to new information, they also have a new context in which to re-examine their own ideas and beliefs. The activity then involves a discussion with the entire group, examining concepts, terms, etc. The end result is a workable definition of the terms or concepts as defined by the group. If used in a classroom situation students would then be asked to compare the group's definition to a literature review of the terms and concepts within the discipline. Another class discussion would occur following the students' findings.


This article was originally published in International Journal of Learning. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


International Journal of Learning


© Common Ground, Shari Stoddard, All Rights Reserved.