Concept Attainment-Part 2: 3 Elements, Types, and 4 Strategies of Concept Attainment YouTube Lecture Handouts for Tripura PSC Exam

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Concepts: Simultaneous & Successive Scanning, Conservative Focusing & Focus Gambling
  • Concepts are part of thinking
  • Learning concept is like problem solving – we must think in order to learn concepts
  • Concept cannot be formed by seeing a single instance – red toy box (red can be toy or box or apple …)
  • Person must see many examples before confirming or denying a hypothesis about concept
  • Concept learning (simple or complex) is slow process

3 Elements of Concepts

  • Examples (positive and negative) which contain all the characteristic features or essential attributes in them
  • Attributes (essential and non-essential) are the features of objects. Essential attributes are the common features of the concepts
  • Attribute value is the specific content of that category

Types of Concepts

  • Conjunctive concepts are defined by the joint presence of several attributes.
  • Disjunctive concepts require the presence of some attributes and the absence of others.
  • Relational concepts have several attributes, but these bear some kind of relationship to one another
  • cards
Table of Features and 3 Values for Each Feature
Features3 values for each feature
Borders1 to 3
ShapesCircle, Cross, Square
Number of Objects1 to 3
ColorRed, Green, Black
  • Can create 255 hypothesis
  • Conjunctive concepts – joint presence of two or more features (zebra as mammal – of size and shape of horse found in wild)

4 Strategies for Concept Attainment

Simultaneous Scanning

  • Subject rationally uses information to eliminate several hypotheses and rationally thinks that remaining hypotheses can be true.
  • Eliminate all but correct hypothesis and leaves subjects with fewest choices.
  • Requires better reasoning and memory of positive and negative instances
  • Does not provide way to control the riskiness of choices
  • All red cards, all cards with circles and all red circles
Properties of Instance Chosen for Testing

Successive Scanning

  • Tests single hypothesis at a time
  • First green, then square, then border and so on
  • More of guessing game
  • Does not guarantee in formativeness of choices or regulating risk
  • Used when cognitive going gets rough or one has good reason to believe that particular hypothesis is true
  • Less efficient than simultaneous scanning
  • Requires less thinking and less memory

Conservative Focusing

  • Find card with positive instance and use card as focus for future choice
  • Best for conjunctive concepts
  • Less thinking and time
  • More efficient than successive scanning – does not waste choices on positive instances that eliminates no hypothesis
  • Disadvantage – if instance is not easily located on demand

Focus Card

Focus Gambling

Subject Uses Focus Card but Changes More Than 1 Feature at a Time

  • Focus card of 3 green circles and 2 borders might change both number of circles and color to see whether you obtain positive or negative instance
  • Applied when solving in few steps brings big reward or loose little in many trials

Single Trial

  • (+) Focus Card
  • (+) 3 figures

Multiple Trials

  • (+) Focus Card
  • (-)
  • (-)
  • (-) (red is concept and not 3 figures)


Discrimination Learning

Concept is learnt when the ability to discriminate is generalized to other objects with same feature

When offer apple – say apple

When offer other things (ball, cup) – say other names

So child associates apple with fruit (size, shape, edible)

Conjunctive Concept – apple is any round object that one can eat (this is stimulus generalization)

Now there is need to differentiate between plums, pears and apples.

It requires appropriate words in concept attainment – discrimination (axe versus plough – used to prepare soil to sow seeds) and abstraction

Context – understanding concept by series of statements (axe – agricultural tool)

Definition – describing a concept and explaining it (axe as implement used to cut the wood)

Factors Affecting Learning Concepts

  • Transfer – when you a concept similar to one being learned, then you can learn rapidly
  • Distinctiveness – degree to which common elements are isolated, grouped or made conspicuous
  • Ability to manipulate – redraw, redesign, rearrange
  • People learn faster if all relevant information is available at the same time instead of being given only a piece of information at a time