Concept Learning & Component Display Theory

Concept Learning & Component Display Theory

Concept Learning:


Concept learning involves the classification of objects, events, or ideas into categories based on similar characteristics.


  • Provides solid foundation
  • Easy to grasp
  • Decomposition can simplify subject
  • Systematic learning process


  • Narrow focus
  • No instruction for integrating concepts

Component Display Theory:


Component Display Theory (CDT) is a content classification strategy. CDT consists of three main parts: 1) a scheme for describing instructional strategies, 2) a performance-content matrix & 3) rules that relate the first two parts.

Part One: Scheme for Describing Instructional Strategy

  • Primary Presentation Forms
    • General & specific information
    • Present & request learners remember and/or use
    • Put together to make a matrix
  • Secondary Presentation Forms
    • Historical background information
    • Prerequisite information
    • Mnemonics
    • Feedback
  • Inter-display relationships
    • Combinations of Primary Presentation Forms

Part Two: Performance Content Matrix

Fact Concept Procedure Principle

Part Three:Rules that apply to the first two parts


  • Picks up where concept learning leaves off
  • Broader focus
  • Assists in identifying objectives


  • Focuses on parts of a lesson-no way to bring parts together to form a whole
  • Inefficient
  • Passive rather than interactive instruction
  • Lack of organization


Joshi, S. (2010). Concept learning by example decomposition. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence. 22 (1), 1-21. Retrieved from: EBSCO

Klausmeier, H. J. (1992). Concept learning and concept teaching. Educational Psychologist. 27 (3), 267-286. Retrieved from from EBSCO

Merrill, M.D. (1994). Instructional Design Theory. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications, Inc.

Merrill, M. D. (2008). Reflections on a four decade search for effective, efficient and engaging instruction. Micheal Allen’s 20008 e-Learning
Annual. 1, 141-167. Retrieved from:

Merrill, M. D., Li, Z., & Jones, M. K. (1991). Second generation instructional design (ID2). Educational Technology, 30(1), 7-11.

Merrill, M. D., Tennyson, R. D., & Posey, L. O. (1992) Teaching Concepts: An Instructional Design Guide. (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications, Inc.

Concept learning. (2011, July 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:36, July 4, 2011, from

Posted by: Kelly Werner