Long-Term Learning Strategy: Concrete Examples

This is the eighth in a series of posts highlighting classroom strategies that support long-term, profound learning, rather than short-term, superficial learning.  The previous posts are linked below.

This post explores learning through the use of Concrete Examples.  This strategy is about curating and creating illustrative examples that can be tied to a concept to further understanding.  Used in conjunction with Retrieval Practice, the strategy of Concrete Examples provides the content (the what) for studying.

From the Students’ Perspective

In order to implement Concrete Examples into study habits, it is important to:

  • Establish (and utilize) a system to collect Concrete Examples and verify the accuracy of each;
  • Watch for opportunities to create unique Concrete Examples;
  • Establish (and utilize) a routine for studying with Retrieval Practice while linking examples with concepts; and
  • Articulate Concrete Examples and the connections to others for maximum benefit.

From the Teachers’ Perspective

As a teacher, it is important to:

  • Model the use of Concrete Examples by intentionally incorporating them into the students’ learning experiences;
  • Scaffold the connections until the students are able to do so themselves;
  • Provide opportunities for students to create unique Concrete Examples; and
  • Provide opportunities for students to share connections with colleagues.


Article V: Organizational Transformation is about creating the conditions for success – those conditions in which students can perform at high levels.  This high, or profound, level of understanding comes as students own their learning.  They advocate for their own learning, they are curators and creators of structures, strategies, and evidence of learning.

We hold that: V.j Profound learning (owning the knowledge) as opposed to superficial learning (short-term memory) comes more from engagement and commitment than from various forms of compliance, coercion, sanctions, or rewards. 

Concrete Examples, like the other long-term learning strategies, must be intentionally taught, modeled, and practiced with students.   Teachers should incorporate meta-cognition in the learning experiences so the students are able to think about their thinking.

Want to Learn More?

I encourage you to check out www.LearningScientists.org, including the downloadable content related to Concrete Examples.    In addition, you may access an interview by Jennifer Gonzalez with Megan Smith and Yana Weinstein on her site, Cult of Pedagogy.  These resources served as my own inspiration to explore Concrete Examples.

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