Blog Parents Key Decisions ‘Concept-Driven Learning’ Explained: What Parents Need to Know

‘Concept-Driven Learning’ Explained: What Parents Need to Know

Concept-driven learning in the classroom is driven by “big ideas” and widens the focus of the content being discussed with students.

To better understand this, envision a photographer framing a scene.

Suddenly, he zooms out to capture a wider area. It’s the equivalent of learning how to see the bigger picture.

When your child is exposed to concept-driven learning, they not only take in knowledge, but they learn how to apply that knowledge to real-life situations.

It’s that extra step that makes the difference between memorising facts and understanding concepts. Hence, the term “concept-driven” learning.

owis class

What Is a Concept-Driven Approach to Learning?

A child may easily count to 100 yet be unable to roughly estimate the number of candies in a clear jar.

They learned the mathematical concept of counting but never mastered how to apply that concept to real-world situations.

True learning happens when children are able to use the information they’ve learned to master skills such as estimating, reasoning and drawing conclusions.

What good is it for your child to recite the letters of the alphabet yet never learn to read? And are they truly learning if they know how to drive a nail but never build a simple birdhouse?

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Concept-driven instruction helps students move beyond learning a skill. It enables them to put that skill to use in a way that matters.

They create. They apply. They test their theories. In this way, they develop a real-world mastery of skills first introduced in the classroom.

owis secondary

Concept-Driven Versus Knowledge-Driven Instruction

Too many traditional classrooms still practice knowledge-driven learning. In knowledge-driven education, children memorise facts such as mathematical rules and equations to enable them to score passing grades on tests and quizzes.

As long as they score well, teachers assume they’ve mastered the concept.

However, remembering a fact is vastly different from learning a concept. In essence, these classrooms stop short of completion.

Work is required beyond just mastering a skill in isolation. That skill must be tested and applied in the real world successfully. Only then has a student proven his mastery.

owis girls

Benefits of Concept-Driven Learning

The concept-driven approach has many benefits over older methods, including helping to produce children who are better prepared to compete successfully in a global world. These benefits include:

  • Students are more engaged in their learning.
  • They are encouraged to investigate, examine, question, take apart and put together.
  • They become more confident in their abilities.
  • Learning focuses more on the individual student and how they approach the concept rather than the concept itself.
  • Students master skills in critical thinking, reasoning and inquiry.
  • They become more future proof and better prepared to succeed in life.

Students who have a strong foundation of concept-driven learning enjoy ample opportunity to adapt and change focus.

As a result, they’re quick thinkers and good problem-solvers once out in the world. They’re better prepared to see the big picture and less inclined to become hyper focused on insignificant problems.

The Role of Concept-Driven Learning in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme

The IB programme is an international curriculum designed to develop students academically and personally. It culminates in an internationally recognised diploma and comprises coursework aimed at shaping students into multicultural thinkers.

IB courses begin as early as 3 years old, with the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), and continue through to 19, when students complete the IB Diploma Programme, or IB DP.

The IB uses a concept-driven approach that encourages inquiry-based and student-led learning.

There is little memorisation involved in IB coursework. In its place, students are encouraged to take what they’ve learned into their communities to help make the world a better place.

When your child takes part in IB coursework, they’re challenged to become top performers.

They’re encouraged to take the lead role in their education and claim ownership of their performance.

Classes have meaning beyond merely earning a passing grade.

In the IB classroom, teachers are facilitators who act as guides to keep students on the right track, but it is each individual student who takes responsibility. In this way, students master important skills such as:

  • Acceptance
  • Collaboration
  • Empathy
  • Questioning
  • Researching
  • Theorising
  • Drawing Conclusions

From the early years on, children learn self-discipline, time management, leadership, and how to function successfully as part of a team in the IB curriculum.

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In an international school that follows the IB curriculum, students are exposed to different cultures and to students who honour different traditions, different manners of dress, and different languages.

As a result, they learn to embrace a multicultural world. These skills are all beneficial to students, whether they choose to continue their education or enter the workforce immediately following graduation.

owis secondary experiment

The IB Learners Profile

IB students share a common learner’s profile. This is the aim, so to speak, of the International Baccalaureate Programme. IB learners consistently strive to improve their skills in the following areas:

  • Inquiry
  • Thinking
  • Knowledge
  • Open-Mindedness
  • Caring
  • Communicating
  • Having High Principles
  • Taking Risks
  • Being Balanced
  • Reflection

These attributes, along with international-mindedness, are important attributes for students enrolled in IB classes.

If you’re a parent searching for the right school for your primary- or secondary-aged child, consider enrolling them in a school that follows the IB curriculum.

One World International School (OWIS) in Singapore is a prime example of such a school with a multicultural student population of over 70 nationalities and offering the IB PYP, IGCSE and IB Diploma programme for students from the ages of 3 to 18.

Schools like this expose students to other cultures, traditions and languages from an early age.

They encourage students to become self-sufficient and self-led and to take active roles in the quality of their education.

These students are the leaders of tomorrow, sharing common skills that promote leadership regardless of where they live or work.

The diploma your child earns as part of the IB programme is recognised worldwide and is a solid stepping stone to an excellent university programme or a modern career role.

For related articles, please go to the following:

Singapore Local School Admission: How Foreign Students can get into Primary Schools in Singapore

International Students in Singapore: School Options & Fees

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.