With the increasing emphasis on the IB Learner Profile and with the extension of approaches to teaching and learning to the DP programme model, DP teachers are being encouraged to develop their understanding of the transferable and universal nature of concepts and inquiry, so that they take a more constructivist approach to teaching in the DP classroom. Constructivist learning is a social theory about learning by constructing one’s own understanding and making connections with prior and new understandings. This is being operationalised within new programme delivery across the diploma.

The IB has recently published a position paper written by H. Lynn Erickson on Concept-based teaching and learning available from the Online Curriculum Centre. This outlines the key ideas behind a concept-based curriculum and how the IB programmes are becoming concept-based. A concept serves as an integrating lens and encourages the transfer of ideas within and across the disciplines “as students search for patterns and connections in the creation of new knowledge. A concept-driven curriculum challenges the memorisation of isolated facts and the mastery of skills out of context.

Lynn Erickson has also produced a three part series YouTube series offering tips for reinforcing concept learning and developing the critical thinking students need for the 21st century.

Lynn compares traditional two-dimensional instruction (facts and skills-based, with assumed conceptual understanding) and three-dimensional instruction (concepts, principles and generalisations are supported by facts and skills) and outlines some key pedagogical shifts which will be required in making the transition from the 2D to the 3D model, which will allow for synergistic thinking and transfer of knowledge and skills. She defines levels of ‘concepts’ which should be used in planning the curriculum:

  • Key concepts, which are timeless macro-ideas that transcend disciplines (such as order, systems, change).
  • Related concepts, which are discipline-specific and build depth of understanding in the subject area.
  • Additional conceptual understandings, “supporting ideas“, which are five to eight concepts per unit designed to guide formative work.

The shift to concept-based learning (CBL) is a major feature of the new Business Management syllabus guide, for first teaching September 2014. A pre-publication version of the new guide is now available; which should be very close to the approved guide. In the renamed Business Management programme, concepts include change, culture, ethics, globalization, innovation and strategy and the intention is to encourage students to develop their understanding of interdisciplinary concepts from a business management perspective. In doing so, students:

  • Consider the content of the programme through the lens of the wider concepts. The purpose is to inspire student creative and critical thinking, questioning and research skills.
  • Know, learn, understand and master business ideas, rather than simply memorise them.
  • Learn to recognise and identify the importance of business concepts and later relate these to increasingly complex and changing real world situations.
  • Learn to create connections between various subject groups like Maths, Arts, Science, Social Studies and Languages, which are then emphasised through the core of the extended essay, TOK and CAS.
  • Learn, understand and apply business ideas to their own life.
  • Become life-long learners.

You might want to start your investigation with this Pinterest on CBL as it provides links to a number of useful sources: