Basic Conceptual Systems (BCS)

Basic Conceptual Systems (BCS) and their related Basic Concepts were identified by Dr. Magne Nyborg (1971, 1993) as essential prerequisites to effective learning. The knowledge of these systems and concepts is crucial to the higher-level cognitive skills involved in a student’s ability to describe, compare, explain, define and determine principles and rules. Basic Conceptual Systems (BCS) – refers to several (abstracted) fundamental and distinct systems or classes of concepts that are organized together in terms of partial similarities and differences. These systems are labeled through the use of specific linguistic symbols known as superordinate terms (Color, Shape, Position, Place, Size, Direction, etc.). These systems help students to mentally organize and form relationships between the different kinds of information they are exposed to in both educational and social contexts. 

Inventory of Basic Conceptual Systems (Abbreviated version)

 Words denoting Basic Conceptual Systems (BCS) followed by words denoting related Basic Concepts (Conceptual vocabulary)

 1. Color: Red, blue, etc.

 2. Shape: Linear shapes: straight line, bowed/curved, angular.

Surface shapes (2D): round, triangular, four-sided, etc.

Spatial shapes (3D): spherical, cubic, prismatic, cylindrical, etc.

Shapes named according to the look of the object: egg shape, heart shape, star shape, (crescent) moon shape, etc.

 3. Position: Vertical, horizontal, diagonal, sitting, kneeling, lying, etc.

 4. Place: Spatially—Placed on, under, at, over, beside, to the left/right of …etc. 

Linearly—Placed first, second, behind, between, in front of, etc. in a sequence/series, etc.

 5. Size(s): 1-dimensional, 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional sizes in relation to … and their measurement units.

(E.g. for line sizes: great/small, greater /smaller etc., in length, in height, in width, in depth in relation to …), etc.

 6. Direction: From the left to the right, from the right to the left, up/upwards, down/downwards, etc.

 7. Number: Small/large etc. number in relation to…, etc.

Number of ones, of tens, to increase/decrease numbers etc. (Also, exact numerals symbolizing numbers).

 8. Sound/speech sounds­-phoneme: General sounds in the environment, Speech/letter sounds: /a/, /f/, /g/, etc.

 9. Surface Pattern: Dotted/spotted, striped, checkered, flowered, etc.

10. Use or function: To drink from, to sit on, to write with, etc.

11. Substance/Material: Wood, glass, metal, plastic, leather, etc.

12. Surface attributes: Smooth, rough, glossy, matt, painted, etc.

13. Attributes of a substance/material: Hard, soft, elastic, firm, etc.

14. Weight: Large/heavy, small/light in weight in relation to…, etc. Also, precise measures of weight.

15. Temperature: Cold, warm, boiling hot temperature, freezing cold temperature, exact temperatures, etc.

16. Smell: Nice/pleasant, unpleasant, the smell of different foods, etc.

17. Taste: Sour, sweet, bitter, apple-taste, etc.

18. Time: Long amount of time, short amount of time, exact measures of time, etc.

19. Change in … : Color, shape, position, etc.

20. Speed/movement: Fast in speed, slow in speed, exact measures of speed, etc.

21. Value: High value, low value, monetary value, etc.

22. Gender: Male, female.

23. Living state: Living thing, not a living thing, dead (lifeless).