Concept-Based Learning in DP Science

May 26, 2023

Concept-based learning and teaching is not a new invention. It has been integral to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP) for many years. Updated IB Diploma Programme (DP) subject guides have been identifying and using concepts more deliberately. This year, the DP review cycle brings us new Biology, Chemistry and Physics subject guides for first teaching from August 2023 and first assessment in 2025.

Each of the new guides includes concepts that are a structural part of the course to support teaching and learning. This approach makes the subject more relevant and applicable by developing a triumvirate of content, context and concepts.

Content – the knowledge that students will need to understand, apply and evaluate.
Context – the real-world situation of this knowledge in action.
Concepts – the threads that run throughout the subject which connect the knowledge and the context to help students see the holistic natures of the disciplines that they study.

The launch of the updated guides brings the Sciences in line with other recently updated DP subjects, embedding the concept-based approach which is now required.

Concept-based learning offers the following benefits to students:

  • Deeper thinking skills
  • Networked knowledge
  • Intercultural understanding
  • Motivation
  • Language fluency

Combined with inquiry and skills, a concept-based approach is what makes planning and delivering an IBDP curriculum uniquely placed to develop competent learners ready to take on the challenges of our world.

Read ManageBac’s DP Sciences – Concept-Based Teaching Guide to learn more about concepts in the Sciences. Our experienced authors explore the concepts in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and suggest ways in which they can be utilised in class.

Include a visual representation of the concepts in your classroom with engaging DP Science Concepts Posters designed by award-winning artist Gary Goodwin.

5 Tips for Developing a Concept-Based Approach

The following tips are useful for Science teachers seeking to integrate a concept-based approach. They are also valid in any other DP subject.

  1. Introduce subject-specific Concepts early
    Share the concepts at the earliest opportunity so that students can understand them and how they relate to their learning. Students can then begin to look for connections between the concepts, content and context themselves.
  2. Be explicit
    Bring the concepts into your classroom. Give students time and space to think about concepts. Point them out repeatedly to your students until they are able to identify them for themselves.
  3. Engage
    Refer to concepts regularly and encourage students to link to them in every lesson. Use open-ended concept questions to start this process. This may seem forced at the beginning, but over time students will begin to think about the links – this is engaged learning.
  4. Display
    Display the concepts in your classroom as a visual prompt for students. ManageBac has had the artist Gary Goodwin reimagine the concepts in colourful posters that you can download and display.
  1. Discuss
    Within your department and school, discuss the concepts you are applying with your students. You can also discuss the methods you are using to engage your students with the concepts in your subject area. Concepts are a great way to horizontally and vertically articulate the learning in your school.

Lastly, we offer two introductory activities you can undertake with your class to engage them with the idea of concepts in any DP subject.

Related Article

New DP Science Courses: What to Expect

About the Author

Tom Brodie Removebg Preview

Tom Brodie
ManageBac Curriculum Coordinator

Tom is an international educator with over 20 years of experience. He works for ManageBac to support educators and students in their IB teaching and learning by keeping ManageBac current, improving it and providing supportive content.