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Vol. 4, No. 7      August 06, 2008    

The 2008 Learning and Performance Strategies Conference — Another Huge Success

DSA and the fantastic conference presenters would like to thank each and every conference participant. June became a very exciting--not to mention--worrisome month for Californians, with fires raging all over the state. Fortunately, the weather was perfect the week of the conference here in Monterey, and fires waited until everyone had returned home before starting up and becoming a huge problem all over our beautiful Golden State.

In the Monterey area, the Big Sur fires, "The Basin Complex Fire", were in the news (and the smoke was in the air) throughout most of July.

The Basin Complex Fire, which started on June 21, was declared 100% contained as of 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, after having burned 162,818 acres. If you would like to see some amazing photographs of the fires, take a look at the Central Coast Public Radio Station website at:

We feel very lucky that we were able to host the conference here on the beautiful central coast in Monterey when we did, and thank you again for those who participated. We have posted photos and quotes at:

Do You Have Project Headaches?
Answer: Take two aspirin and call DSA. DSA’s project teams provide a dedicated resource, a fresh perspective, a broad base of experience, and an innovative approach to your project.
10 great reasons to let DSA develop your training...

Many of you have been asking about the fall schedule for DSA workshops. The short answer is: we are focusing on our in-company and co-sponsored events, like The Instructional Developer Workshop, Dec. 3-5 in Orlando, sponsored by Training Magazine. You can sign up at the Training events website.

The alternative is a good one: The Course Developer Workshop Online, with Dr. Paul Swan as your personal coach/facilitator. You work on your own project with expert feedback on your lessons. During the online workshops, you will be creating a design document for your own project. Learn at your own pace 24/7.

If you have a group and might be interested in organizing an in-company workshop, call me for details at 800-650-7465.


A Hot Tip for OD Practioners, Project Managers, Change Executives and Consultants
Be sure to check out Results from Change, a free email newsletter from Being First, Inc. that provides proven tips, strategies and tools for leading and consulting to transformational change.


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Today's Tip
What's The Meaning Of That Idea? Analyzing and Teaching Concepts

Dr. Darryl SinkSay, have you ever been in a meeting and all of a sudden someone says "What are we really talking about? Could you give me an example or more clearly define that idea so we all have a common meaning?" If so, the idea was probably a concept.

One of the more powerful tools an instructional designer or communication specialist can have is a good working knowledge of how to analyze and teach concepts.

This tip will be the first of two on concepts. This first one will define this content type and illustrate how to do concept analysis to come up with the raw material necessary for teaching a concept lesson. The second will discus how to go beyond the scientific way to teach a concept to using creative instructional strategies for teaching concepts.

The science for analyzing and teaching concepts is very well researched and documented. This is primarily because so much of school learning has to do with concepts and therefore much of educational research has concentrated on this content type.

So what are concepts and how do you do analyze them to have the raw material needed for teaching them?

Concepts are nouns that represent a specific idea, thing, or event. They may be concrete or abstract.

Concrete concepts include things like a car, a dog, a cat, and a computer. If you can usually see and touch it, it is a concrete concept.

Abstract concepts or defined concepts include such ideas as trust, empowerment, loyalty, user requirements, and workplace harassment. Abstract concepts are usually defined by criteria that together make up the concept. These are called critical attributes.

So how do you come up with the attributes of a concept especially a defined abstract one?

Here is the basic procedure for performing a concept analysis:
Select a concept
Write a tentative definition of the concept
List critical and variable attributes of the concept
Prepare examples

• Clear examples
• Divergent examples
• Close-in non-examples

An Example:
Here is an example of a concept (physical aggression) used with pre-service schoolteachers to help them assist children with various disorders to be in the main stream with other school children as much as possible. If the teacher observed physical aggression, however, they were to remove the student from the situation to avoid someone getting hurt.

Concept: Physical Aggression 
Tentative definition: A behavior of a student directed against another person. The behavior is physical in nature and intentionally unfriendly.

Critical Attributes:
All four critical attributes must be present.
  1. It is the behavior of a student.
  2. It is directed against another person.
  3. It must involve physical interaction.
  4. It must be intentionally unfriendly.
Variable attributes:
Other characteristics may include:
  • It may be self-initiated or provoked by another’s behavior.
  • The other person maybe a student, teacher, or anyone else.
  • It may take the form of hitting kicking, pushing, etc. It does not require actual physical contact.
  • Clear example: A student pushes another student to the ground.
  • Divergent example. A student intentionally runs their bicycle into the playground supervisor.
  • Close-in non-example: A student bites himself or herself on the arm. This is a non-example because the behavior is not directed against another person, but rather themselves. It is missing critical attribute number two above.

I hope you will try out this concept analysis procedure, perhaps with some of your colleagues, before the next tip where I will share some ideas for teaching concepts creatively.

'Til next time.


Article © 2008 Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc.

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Copyright, Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc.
Monterey, California


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