IB Corner - What is Conceptual Learning?

At our last Curriculum Day, the teachers were involved in lots of learning around the PYP programme, in particular how to teach for conceptual understanding. A concept-driven curriculum means the learner constructs meaning though critical thinking and the transfer of prior knowledge and understanding. When the students learn this way, they can also make links across the subjects. In the Primary Years Programme (International Baccalaureate), a balance is sought between acquisition of knowledge and skills, development of conceptual understanding, demonstration of positive attitudes, and taking responsible action. This means that, through our programme of inquiry, students at Mildura West learn not just facts and information (knowledge), but they also learn how to do things (skills), how to understand and organise knowledge (concepts) and how to put their learning into action (action). Our learners are able to reflect on their learning and identify how their learning is supporting them to develop the attributes of the Learner Profile.

A few practical examples of the difference can be seen below.

Topic Based Learning Concept Based Learning
  • The First Fleet consisted of 11 ships and arrived in Botany Bay in January, 1788
  • Historical events, such as the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia, can be viewed from different perspectives.
  • The Australian Federal Government is separated into three branches: The Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.
  • The Australian Federal Government is a system and it is made up of different, interconnected parts
  • There are five major food groups and we need to eat different amounts of each to eat a balanced diet.
  • We can use evidence to inform our choices about a balanced diet.