, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 195–205 | Cite as

Effects of a diagrammatic display of coordinate concept definitions on concept classification performance

  • Martin Tessmer
  • Marcy P. Driscoll


This study investigated the effect of an innovative method for presenting coordinate definitions on learning defined concepts. A text that arranged definitions and examples of seven coordinate concepts in a tree-like diagram was contrasted with a text that arranged these same definitions and examples in a standard textbook format. In addition, this study examined a method of creating concept examples that required different levels of discrimination and generalization, called a rational set generator. Forty-six junior and senior high school physics students participated. Results confirmed the predicted interaction between text method and reading ability, with the lower ability students benefiting more from the diagram method than their counterparts exposed to the textbook format.


Test Item Reading Ability Concept Learning Instructional Development Concept Tree 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J. R. (1976).Language, memory and thought. New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, R. C. (1973). Learning principles from text.Journal of Educational Psychology, 64, 26–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bower, G. (1970). Organizational factors in memory.Cognitive Psychology, 1, 18–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gagne, E. D. (1978) Long-term retention of information following learning from prose.Review of Educational Research, 48 629–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gagne, R. M. (1977).The conditions of learning (3rd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  6. Gagne, R. M., & Briggs, L. J. (1979).Principles of instructional design (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  7. Klatzky, R. L. (1980).Human memory: Structures and processes (2nd ed.). San Francisco: William H. Freeman & Co.Google Scholar
  8. Klausmeier, H. J., Ghatala, E. S., & Frayer, D. A. (1974).Conceptual learning and development: A cognitive view. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Landa, L. (1974).Algorithimization in learning and instruction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.Google Scholar
  10. Merrill, M. D., Reigeluth, C. M., & Faust, G. W. (1979). The instructional quality profile: A curriculum evaluation and design tool. InProcedures for instructional systems development. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. Markle, S. M. (1975).They teach concepts, don't they? Invited address to the American Educational Research Association.Google Scholar
  12. Markle, S. M. (1977). Teaching conceptual networks.Journal of Instructional Development, 1, 13–17.Google Scholar
  13. Markle, S. M., & Tiemann, P. (1969).Really understanding concepts, or in fruminous pursuit of the jabberwock. Chicago: Tiemann Associates.Google Scholar
  14. Park, O. (1984). Example comparison strategy versus attribute identification strategy in concept learning.American Educational Research Journal, 21(1), 145–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Reigeluth, C. M., & Stein, F. S. (1983). The elaboration theory of instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.),Instructional design theories and models. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  16. Reiser, R. A., & Gagne, R. M. (1982) Characteristics of media selection models.Review of Educational Research, 52(4), 499–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Shavelson, R. J. (1972). Some aspects of the correspondence between content structure and cognitive structure on physics instruction.Journal of Educational Psychology, 63, 225–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tennyson, R. D. (1980). Instructional control strategies and content structure as design variables in concept acquisition using computer-based instruction.Journal of Educational Psychology, 72(4), 525–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tennyson, R. D., & Boutwell, R. C. (1974). Methodology for the sequencing of instances in classroom concept teaching.Educational Technology, 14, 45–49.Google Scholar
  20. Tennyson, R. D., Chao, J. N., & Younger, J. (1981). Concept learning effectiveness using prototype and skill development presentation forms.Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 326–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tennyson, R. D., & Park, S. I. (1984). Process learning time as an adaptive design variable in concept learning using computer-based instruction.Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(3), 452–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tennyson, R. D., Woolley, F. R., & Merrill, M. D. (1972). Exemplar and nonexemplar variables which produce correct concept classification behavior and specified classification errors.Journal of Educational Psychology, 62, 144–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wilcox, W. C., Merrill, M. D., & Black, H. B. (1981). Effect of teaching a conceptual hierarchy on concept classification performance.Journal of Instructional Development, 5(1), 8–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Woolley, F. R., & Tennyson, R. D. (1972). Conceptual model of classification behavior.Educational Technology, 12, 37–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Tessmer
    • 1
  • Marcy P. Driscoll
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Colorado/DenverDenver
  2. 2.Florida State UniversityTallahassee

Personalised recommendations