Concept Checking

Concept checking is finding out if a learner has understood a new concept or insight introduced into a lesson. There are a variety of ways to do this, including asking concept questions as part of the classroom dialogue. this is an important aspect of all classroom learning, however, in a course such as TOK, where there is a lot of ‘conceptual connectedness’ or ‘concept networks’, it is very important to ensure that students are developing their understanding of individual concepts as well as the variety of their relationships. It is important in ‘inductive teaching’ as TOK should be taught, where learners arrive at an understanding of rules or principles through examples of these concepts at work. Teachers need to check that their students have a clear understanding of the concepts presented to enable them to build on them and their learner’s understanding.

In the classroom

Concept checking is an important tool as it avoids asking the question, ‘Do you understand?’, which can be answered ‘yes’ without indicating true understanding. Concept questions, using scenarios, students explaining meaning, and asking open-ended questions requiring a short, concise answer, are all ways of concept checking.

Concept checking is a demanding skill in a TOK classroom as its teaching context is often discussion-based and therefore deriving its topics from recent events and student experiences. Nonetheless, the underlying conceptual framework is generic and consistent so ‘template activities’ are useful tools for concept checking and can be open to lead to checking using a unique context.

Conceptual Checking Activities

These activities are designed to text a student’s conceptual understanding providing you with an opportunity to give them quick feedback on the development of their understanding.


Asking learners to identify an example of inductive thinking by selecting a scenario where inductive thinking is clearly occurring. If they do, it can be assumed that they understand the concept of induction and this can be reinforced and/or used as assumed knowledge in a later Concept Check.

This is an example of first method of Concept Checking.

Using Scenarios

Immediate Checking:

Using Inductive Reasoning which one of the following scenarios . . .

Checking for Understanding:

Given the scenario you have chosen, when does Inductive Reasoning . . .  .

Checking for Depth through transfer, problem solving:

If you going to design an experiment based on Inductive Reasoning . . .

If you were going to provide feedback . . . .

Checking Meaning

What does it mean when a scientist says that . .

Open-ended questions

In two sentences explain . . . .



My best one – and most recent – was to use pictures of a series of doors and asked students to describe the Ways of Knowing using the doors. It produced some interesting results and allowed me to moderate their understanding in a way that was outside the usual assessment paradigm.