General Overview

An Introduction to the Educational and Metacognitive approach of Systematic Concept Teaching 

Dr. Andreas Hansen, and Kelly Morgan, MA, SLP

The Systematic Concept Teaching approach aims at teaching Basic Conceptual Systems (re Color, Shape, Size, Position, Place, Surface Pattern, Direction and Number, etc.) and their related concepts by means of the Concept Teaching Model (The CTM) – in order to positively change students' prerequisites for thinking and learning; in short: teaching students how to be more effective learners. The primary developer of this approach was the late Magne Nyborg (1927–1996). 

Generally, one can say that SCT is well suited for students starting at the ages of four or five years and upwards. This approach has also proven to be successful with adults who struggle with learning reading, writing, mathematics, etc.

Throughout more than 30 years, many teaching experiments and projects related to Systematic Concept Teaching have been carried out by Magne Nyborg and colleagues, including Andreas Hansen. These have repeatedly demonstrated positive results with students having varying learning difficulties, who have struggled with their learning of language, reading, writing, and other school subjects and skills of different kinds. 

Andreas Hansen (Harstad, Norway) and Kelly Morgan (Seattle, USA) have collaborated over several years to develop a manual for parents, teachers and other interested individuals on SCT theory and practice, including lessons for SCT. This manual will be available in an electronic version in Spring 2019.


We would like to start by giving you a brief introduction to the teaching approach called Systematic Concept Teaching (SCT). Using the following outline points, we would like to show you what it is, how it is done and why it should be utilized. 


Systematic Concept Teaching refers in its first stage to the teaching of Basic Conceptual Systems (BCS)(Color, Shape, Size, Position, Place, Direction, (Surface) Pattern, Direction, Number, Time, etc.) and their related Basic Concepts (blue, round, large, vertical, on, spotted, upwards, four, hour, etc.), which are made verbally conscious to the student by means of oral language skills.


These Basic Conceptual Systems and their related basic concepts (conceptual vocabulary) are taught by means of the Concept Teaching Model (CTM), which was initially developed by Dr. Magne Nyborg from Norway and developed further by Dr. Andreas Hansen.

Analytic Coding

Systematic Concept Teaching trains students to take control of and direct their attention by means of words for Basic Conceptual Systems, equipping them with the tools to describe and analyze things and information in a comprehensive way called Analytic Coding. Later, we’ll engage in an activity that will show you how you can direct your attention by means of (words for) Basic Conceptual Systems in the description or analysis of a letter, a numeral or an object. 

Positive expectations towards their own learning

Concept Teaching aims to help students develop positive expectations towards their own learning.

Learning more effectively

Another important aim of Systematic Concept Teaching is to teach students how to learn more effectively, which can be looked on as an outcome of some of the other points.

Precise and Decontextualized Language

Systematic Concept Teaching guides students in how to apply a precise and decontextualized language when needed to communicating, thinking, learning, etc. This approach refers to communication about objects and events that possible communication partners cannot look at or inspect together while talking. The general assumption is that as much as 40%–60% of the conceptual meanings attached to words and sentences applied in ordinary conversation can be derived or understood in light of the immediate context when communication partners have the opportunity to look at or inspect together the items of discussion. Through SCT, one aims at teaching a more common conceptual basis for a precise communication represented by “a language” consisting of words and sentences that function and convey meanings across situations or contexts, i.e. a language that, to a much lesser extent, is dependent upon what the “partners” can view together while talking. Thus, a language that functions in this way is termed “a precise and decontextualized language.” 


Systematic Concept Teaching is recommended for use in a modified manner with children/students from the age of (3) 4–5 years and upward, according to the individual needs of the students, in Pre-school, Elementary School and Secondary School and even into adulthood if needed.

Tools for Teaching School Subjects

In the final stage of SCT, both Basic Conceptual Systems and more Complex Conceptual Systems with their related conceptual vocabulary are deliberately applied as tools for teaching school subjects and skills of different kinds at increasingly higher levels.

A more comprehensive overview of the SCT theory and practice, including lessons built on the Concept Teaching Model, Analytic Coding exercises and much more in this connection, can be read about in the Overview subsection entitled: SCT Theory and Practice.