A more Comprehensive Overview of the SCT Theory and Practice.
Systematic Concept Teaching (SCT) – What, how and why?
Systematic Concept Teaching (SCT) is an educational and metacognitive approach based on Magne Nyborg's (1927-1996) comprehensive theory of learning. This theory emphasizes the role of language and, in particular, the role of Basic Conceptual Systems (BCS) (re Color, Shape, Size, Position, Place, Direction, Surface Pattern, Direction, Number, Time, etc.) as important prerequisites and tools for Analytic Coding, thinking and learning. These Basic Conceptual Systems and their related concepts can be taught by means of the Concept Teaching Model (The CTM), which was developed by Dr. Magne Nyborg.
This approach aims to help students who have had negative experiences concerning their learning possibilities develop positive expectations towards learning. Also, it seeks to teach them to direct and take control of their attention, training them in prolonging and expanding their short-term memory (STM) and working memory (WM) by consciously applying language in these processes (outer as well as internalized private speech).
Moreover, it makes students aware of and trains them in the use of language as a tool for further thinking and problem-solving. In short, an important aim for SCT is to teach students how to be more effective learners. This approach also includes training students in how to apply a precise and decontextualized (or situational independent) language when it is needed in communication, thinking and learning.
Teachers are trained to apply BCSs and their related concepts deliberately as tools for the teaching of school subjects, including skills of different kinds as students learn more and more BCSs and their related concepts.
The CTM is divided into three different Phases, named according to the particular processes represented in each Phase.
· Phase 1: Selective Association (or learning associations)
· Phase 2: Selective Discrimination (learning discriminations)
· Phase 3: Selective Generalization (discovering and verbalizing similarities and differences)
However, a fourth and basic process named Analytic Coding underlies the learning in all three Phases. In this context, Analytic Coding involves the students performing analyses and comparisons of the different objects presented in light of their knowledge about Basic Conceptual Systems and their related concepts. Thus, the students facilitate their discovery of the actual partial similarities and partial differences (What color, shape, size, position, number, etc. do the different objects in question have, and how are the presented and perceived objects similar or different based on the exemplified questions?). Analyses and comparisons corresponding to this are presumed to take place initially in an intuitive way. As students learn conceptual systems and their related concepts in a verbally conscious way, it is presumed that analyses and comparisons will then be performed on a more conscious level.
Below, is a very simplified illustration of the Concept Teaching Model, by which it is possible to teach Basic Conceptual Systems to a verbally conscious, generalized and transferable level. This illustration is an overview of the CTM with its three Phases, including possible procedures and dialogue in each Phase, using the example of a “round shape” as the focus of the simplified lesson for Basic Conceptual Systems and their related basic concepts. Please note that Phases 1 and 2 of the CTM below are demonstrated using only one task while Phase 3 uses two different tasks to give the reader an overview of what each Phase represents in general. (For a fully developed version of a CTM lesson, see Lesson 5. Round shape included in the attached Sample Packet.)
What kind of students/population can benefit from Systematic Concept Teaching (SCT)?
Generally, one can say that SCT is well suited for students starting at four or five years of age, who can understand oral language information to a certain degree, and who can imitate short sequences of words (or signs) with the teacher and other students in a group as a model. Recently, some experiences with a simplified form of SCT indicate that students between two and three years of age might also benefit from SCT.
Throughout more than 30 years, many teaching experiments related to Concept Teaching have been carried out by Magne Nyborg and colleagues, including Andreas Hansen. To summarize the findings, it is possible to say that the following categories of learners have been shown to benefit from this approach to teaching:
• Early teaching of typically developing students; that is within Pre-school settings and in the early grades of Elementary school
• Students, young people and adults with specific disabilities, including those exhibiting various kinds of language-learning disorders.
• Students and young people with general disorders of learning, combined with a lower IQ
• Students and young people whose primary language is not the dominant language of the culture in which they currently live
• Students and young people with “behavioral disorders’, including schizophrenia
In addition, there are good reasons to expect that students with hearing loss or vision problems can also benefit from the implementation of SCT.
Practitioner’s Manual with lessons for Systematic Concept Teaching and much more
Over the last several years, Andreas Hansen (Norway) and Kelly Morgan (Seattle, US) have collaborated on developing a manual for teachers, parents and other interested professionals on SCT theory and practice, including lessons for SCT, which will make the approach more available to English speaking potential users. This manual will be available in an electronic version in Spring 2019, and is titled:
Intelligent and Effective Learning based on the Model for Systematic Concept Teaching
Practitioner’s Manual for the Systematic Concept Teaching (SCT) Approach to the Prevention and Remediation of Learning Difficulties
Andreas Hansen and Kelly Morgan, 2019
The practitioner’s manual consists of 11 chapters together with an intervention program for Systematic Concept Teaching (SCT), located on a flash drive (when it comes to the electronic version). The intervention program consists of 56 lessons for SCT based on the principles of the Model for Systematic Concept Teaching (abbreviated: The Concept Teaching Model or, the CTM). Each lesson plan incorporates various hands-on activities together with sets of animated slides that are effective for teaching each of the Basic Conceptual Systems and the related Basic Concepts (conceptual vocabulary) they encompass. Many of these lessons also contain Home Practice Worksheets for follow-up cooperative learning between the student and her/his parents. Besides these, there are several more SCT resources on the flash drive, cf. the introduction to the resources on the flash drive presented below.
This English language webpage for SCT has been created in order to provide a platform for further resources and for the sharing of teaching strategies and ideas related to SCT by educators and professionals who implement SCT in their school programs or research.
On training for SCT
It is anticipated that Hansen and Morgan will offer a 2-day basic workshop on the SCT approach. Ideally, such an introduction would be followed up by an additional 1 or 2-day training after approximately half a year. In some cases, an introduction to SCT of only 1-day might be considered. Full training on the SCT approach, however, by definition, would require a more significant number of days.
Some general "evaluations" from outside the SCT community of practitioners
In some cases, SCT theory and practice has been compared to other approaches by professionals from outside the SCT community. This type of comparison happened in 2003 when Hansen and three others were challenged by Dr. Martin Miller to write about “mediation,” after having participated in a Symposium on the topic at a conference the previous year: "The meaning of mediation. Different perspectives". Simply put, mediation refers to the specific role of adults and other more competent individuals in the cognitive development of students, as well as in how best to promote learning. A. Hansen wrote about mediation from the perspective of Magne Nyborg, Ruth M. Deutsch from the standpoint of Mediated Learning Experiences (Reuven Feuerstein), Yuriy Karpov wrote on Vygotsky's conception of mediation, and H. Carl Haywood wrote on mediation within a Neo-Piagetian framework. The articles were published in the Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology (Volume 3 Number 1 May 2003) with M. B. Miller as guest editor for the topic.
In Miller’s discussion of the varying perspectives, he writes about the similarities and differences among the perspectives, with some references to the common historical bases of these different points of view and, of course, on many important aspects of mediation. When Miller compares the effectiveness of the various theories/models with their methods, he sums up his findings as follows:
As the reader will notice, Miller gives a very positive evaluation of the effectiveness of SCT theory and practice. Another comment on SCT theory and teaching methodology comes from the late Dr. Robert Burdon, University of Exeter, as guest editor on a special issue of the journal: Thinking skills and Creativity (Volume 2 Issue 3 2009). The theme being: "Thinking goes to school". Hansen's article in this issue was based on a paper originally presented at a Conference in South Africa 2009 (South African branch conference of the International Association of Cognitive Education and Psychology in Cape Town, February 2009 – The conference theme: The art of thinking) on which Hansen was one of the Keynote speakers. His article is titled: Basic Conceptual Systems (BCSs) – tools for analytic coding, thinking and learning: A concept teaching curriculum in Norway. In reference to Hansen's article, Robert Burdon (2009) comments that among other things:
Further evidence that SCT should be considered among the effective methods for those diagnosed as having intellectual disabilities is the fact that Hansen, in May 27–31, 1997 was invited to New York to participate in a symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association on Mental Retardation (Now: The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities). The heading of the symposium was "Teaching thinking to persons with mental retardation (Intellectual Disability): International perspectives (psychology)". The four perspectives and the presenters are presented in the citation below by the moderator Dr. H. Carl Haywood (Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN), who writes in the abstract book for the meeting as follows:
Burdon, Robert (2009) Thinking skills and Creativity (Volume 2, Issue 3 2009)
Haywood, H. C. (1997). Teaching thinking to persons with mental retardation: International perspectives. In American association on mental retardation 121st annual meeting May 27–31, Abstracts. Sharing global perspectives on disability (p. 16). New York.
Miller, M. B. (2003). The meaning of mediation: Discussion of varying perspectives. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology (online). 3(1), 82–89.