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mental structures that categorize sets of objects, events, or ideas.

Characteristics, defining attributes

attributes or features.


the best representative of a concept, category, or class.


the most highly typical examples of a concept.


exclusion of some true members from a category; limiting a concept (for instance, tomatoes are really fruits—but many people resist this knowledge).


inclusion of nonmembers in a category; overextending a concept.

Concept mapping

a strategy that helps learners construct visual relationships among concepts.

Easy concepts

have easily observed, limited number of characteristics.

Difficult concepts

characteristics are difficult to define, prototypes and exemplars vary widely.

Network (web) concept map

a concept map illustrating non-hierarchical relationships

Hierarchical concept map

A hierarchy suggests a particular order or classification or that some characteristics are more important than others.


a misunderstanding of an important concept.

Bruner's approach to discovery learning

students work on their own to discover basic principles

Inductive reasoning

formulating general principles based on knowledge of examples and details

Intuitive thinking

making imaginative leaps to correct perceptions or workable solutions

Guided discovery

An adaptation of discovery learning in which the teacher provides some direction

Deductive reasoning

drawing conclusions by applying rules or principles: logically moving from a general rule or principle to a specific solution.

Ausubel's method of expository teaching

teachers present material in complete, organized form, moving from broadest to more specific concepts.

Meaningful verbal learning

focused and organized relationships among ideas and verbal information

Advance organizers

Statement of inclusive concepts to introduce and sum-up material that follows

Analogical instruction

teaching new concepts by making connections (analogies) with information that the student already understands.


any situation in which you are trying to reach some goal and must find a means to do so.

Problem solving

creating new solutions for problems

Well-defined problem (common in schools)

Has only one correct solution and a certain method for finding it. If you have two bananas and someone gives you two more, how many do you have. There is one right answer.

Ill-defined (common in life)

Has more than one acceptable solution, an ambiguous goal, and no generally agreed-upon strategy for reaching a solution. How are you going to learn all this Ed Psych material? There are several right answers and the barriers to learning differ from student to student.

Schema-driven problem solving

recognizing a problem as a "disguised" version of an old problem for which one already has a solution.


a rule prescribing a specific set of steps for solving a problem.


general, widely applicable problem-solving strategies (such as trial and error).

Means-end analysis

a strategy in which the problem solver attempts to break the problem into sub-goals and works successively on each.

Working-backward strategy

heuristic in which one starts with the goal and moves backward to solve the problem.

Analogical thinking

a strategy that is used to solve unfamiliar problems by comparing them with problems already solved.


putting your problem-solving plan and its logic into words

Functional fixedness

inability to use objects or tools in a new way

Response set

rigidity; tendency to respond in the most familiar way

Representativeness heuristic

judging the likelihood of an event based on how well the events match your prototypes—what you think is representative of the category.

Availability heuristic

judging the likelihood of an event based on what is available in your memory, assuming those easily remembered events are common.

Belief perseverance

the tendency to hold onto beliefs, even in the face of contradictory evidence.

Confirmation bias

seeking information that confirms our choices and beliefs, while disconfirming evidence.


sudden realization of a solution


individuals who are highly skilled or knowledgeable in a given domain.

Cognitive apprenticeship

a form of scaffolding that occurs when a less skilled learner works at the side of an expert (student teaching is a form of cognitive apprenticeship).

Worked examples

are problems and complete solutions that are presented simultaneously.


imaginative, original thinking or problem solving

Domain-relevant skills

abilities within a field (e.g., musical skills of a musician)

Creativity-relevant processes

work habits, personality traits

Intrinsic task motivation

an internal desire to do something


conceiving of a problem in a new or different way

Divergent thinking

Coming up with many possible solutions

Convergent thinking

narrowing possibilities to a single answer


generating ideas without stopping to evaluate them.


the awareness of and control over one's own cognitive processes; thinking about thinking. Thinking about how you learn.

Learning strategies

general plans for approaching learning tasks.

Learning tactics

specific techniques for learning, such as using mnemonics or outlining a passage.

Comprehension monitoring

The process of checking to see if you understand the material you're reading or hearing.


the process of preparing a concise description of verbal or written passages.

Elaborative questioning

the process of drawing inferences, identifying examples, and forming relationships in the material being studied.


tools for concept mapping developed by the Institute for Human Machine Cognition that are connected to many knowledge maps and other resources on the Internet.


A five-step reading strategy: Review headings; Examine boldface words; Ask "What do I expect to learn?"; Do it—Read; Summarize in your own words.


a strategy that can be used in reading literature: Characters, Aim of story, Problem, Solution.


A strategy to guide reading and inquiry: Before—what do I already know? What do I want to know? After—what have I learned?

Epistemological beliefs

beliefs about the structure, stability, and certainty of knowledge and how knowledge is best learned.

Critical thinking

A person's ability to make and assess conclusions based on evidence.


influence of previously learned material on new material.

General transfer

the ability to take knowledge or skills learned in one context and apply them in a broad range of different contexts.

Specific transfer

the ability to apply information in a context similar to the context in which it was originally learned.

Low-road transfer

spontaneous and automatic transfer of highly practiced skills (e.g., your skills at taking multiple-choice tests).

High-road transfer

application of abstract knowledge learned in one situation to a different situation.


practicing a skill beyond mastery.

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