Learning process by which items are categorized and related to each other.
A concept is a generalization that helps to organize information into categories. For example, the concept "square" is used to describe those things that have four equal sides and four right angles. Thus, the concept categorize things whose properties meet the set requirements. The way young children learn concepts has been studied in experimental situations using so-called artificial concepts such as "square". In contrast, real-life, or natural, concepts have characteristic rather than defining features. For example, a robin would be a prototypical or "good" example of the concept "bird." A penguin lacks an important defining feature of this category—flight, and thus is not as strong an example of a "bird." Similarly, for many children the concept "house" represents a squarish structure with walls, windows, and a chimney that provides shelter. In later development, the child's concept of house would be expanded to include nontypical examples, such as "teepee" or "igloo," both of which have some but not all of the prototypical characteristics that the children have learned for this concept.
Natural concepts are often learned through the use of prototypes, highly typical examples of a category—like the robin cited above. The other major method of concept learning is through the trial-and-error method of testing hypotheses. People will guess or assume that a certain item is an instance of a particular concept; they then learn
People learn simple concepts more readily than complex ones. For example, the easiest concept to learn is one with only a single defining feature. The next easiest is one with multiple features, all of which must be present in every case, known as the conjunctive concept. In conjunctive concepts, and links all the required attributes. For example, the concept square is defined by four sides and four 90-degree angles. It is more difficult to master a so-called disjunctive concept, when either one feature or another must be present. People also learn concepts more easily when they are given positive rather than negative examples of a concept (e.g., shown what it is rather than what it is not).
SELECTED READINGS ABOUT THE INTERNET
The Internet and World Wide Web comprise vast resources of information that students may want to access, using their computer at school or home. Here are some resources for parents and educators interested in learning ways to use these electronic links to enhance education.
Bix, Cynthia Overbeck. Kids Do the Web. Adobe Books, 1996.
Barron, Ann E., and Karen S. Ivers. The Internet and Instruction: Activities and Ideas. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1996.
Cotton, Eileen Giuffri. The Online Classroom: Teaching with the Internet. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication: Edinfo Press, 1996.
Cummins, Jim and Dennis Sayers. Brave New Schools: Challenging Cultural Illiteracy Through Global Learning Networks. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
Lasarenko, Jane. Wired for Learning. Indianapolis, IN: Que Corp., 1997.
Valauskas, Edward J., and Monica Ertel. (eds.) The Internet for Teachers and School Library Media Specialists: Today's Applications, Tomorrow's Projects. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 1996.
Ryder, Randall J., and Tom Hughes. Internet for Educators. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill, 1997.
Williams, Bard. The Internet for Teachers. 2nd ed. Foster City, CA: IDG Books, 1996.
Internet/World Wide Web Safety
Carlson, Matt. Childproof Internet: A Parent's Guide to Safe and Secure Online Access. New York: MIS Press, 1996.
Distefano, Vince, Gregory Giagnocavo, Dorissa Bolinski, and the staff of Classroom Connect. Child Safety on the Internet. Lancaster, PA: Classroom Connect, 1997. (Book and computer disc.)
Wiese, Michael, executive producer. Kids on the Internet. Studio City, CA: Internet Video Partners, 1996. (One 30-minute videocassette.)
Internet for Educators: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help Educators Understand and Use the Internet. Seattle, WA: White Rain Films, 1996. (One 66-minute videocassette and booklet.)
Bruner, Jerome S. Studies in Cognitive Growth: A Collaboration at the Center for Cognitive Studies. New York: Wiley, 1966.
Ginsburg, Herbert, and Sylvia Opper. Piaget's Theory of Intellectual Development. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1988.
Lee, Victor, and Prajna Das Gupta. (eds.) Children's Cognitive and Language Development. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1995.
McShane, John. Cognitive Development: An Information Processing Approach. Oxford, Eng.: B. Blackwell, 1991.
Piaget, Jean, and Barbel Inhelder. The Growth of Logical Thinking from Childhood to Adolescence. New York: Basic Books, 1958.
Sameroff, Arnold J., and Marshall M. Haith. (eds.) The Five to Seven Year Shift: The Age of Reason and Responsibility. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.