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Department Pedagogy

Concept-Rich Instruction by Meir Ben-Hur

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Concept-Rich Instruction (CRI) is based on the prevalent constructivist view that concepts are not simply facts to be memorised and later recalled, but knowledge that is featured in cognitive structures.  CRI emphasises the critical role of mediation in conceptual development and underscores the importance of the verbal and reflective features of classroom interaction.

In CRI, teachers must first identify the core concepts of the mathematics curriculum and plan an instructional sequence that builds upon concepts students already understand and gradually engages students in further learning.  Teachers design learning experiences that provoke thoughtful discussions that lead to new mathematical concepts and prepare students to apply these concepts on their own.

From the view of CRI, learning mathematics reflects a progression from preconceptions to more encompassing and more appropriate concepts.  Therefore, teachers must consider student errors, particularly systematic errors that are generated by preconcpetions, as important sources of information and as key instructional tools.  To correct student misconceptions, teachers should conduct classroom dialogues that are reciprocal, rich with alternative represenations, provocative and reflective, verbally clear, and constructive.  CRI works best in the context of problem-solving activities.   In this context, teachers provoke students' cognitive dissonance and at the same time mediate their cognitive competence.

The assessments used in CRI include a variety of formative methods that can reveal the state of students' learning.  The targets of assessments include students' interest, the meaning they find in what they learn, their preconceptions, their strategic competency; their ability to communicate mathematically, their attitudes and anxieties, and their motivation.  Formative assessment provides opportunities for teachers to test the effects of new instructional strategies and opportunities for students to reflect upon their learning.