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Demonstrate a Concept or Principle

Jacqueline Williamson graduated with a BBA in Personnel Admin., an MPA in HR Management and an MS in Education.

Overhead projectors showing the actual concept or principle can be very useful.

Overhead projectors showing the actual concept or principle can be very useful.


A demonstration is an invaluable aid in teaching a skill. The simple request, “Show me how to do that”, calls for such a demonstration. The purpose of demonstrating a concept or principle is not to teach students how to perform an operation in a particular way. It is used to teach students why something works the way it does, to demonstrate a basic truth about something. In a concept/principle demonstration, the instructor’s aim is to lead students to a basic understanding that can be applied to many different situations.

As a former instructor in the Medical Administration field; I know there are concepts and principles that are essential to a student’s full mastery of an occupation. This is especially true in subjects regarding the administering of medication. Let us venture further by differentiating between the terminology of what is a concept and what is a principle.

Concept vs. Principle

What is a concept? A concept is a mental construct, an idea that refers to an experience.

What is a principle? A principle refers to a constant relationship between two or more concepts that can be used to make predictions.

How do you know whether a student has understood the concept or principle being taught? The instructor should have students apply the concept to a new learning situation.

Consider a simple concept: A plant with limited sunlight and water will not flourish as well as one with adequate sunlight and water. In order to test the validity of this concept a student takes two plants. Plant One is kept in a dark room with occasional watering but no light even artificial sunlight. Plant Two is kept in the classroom where it has exposure to both adequate sunlight and water. This is done for a period of two or three weeks. Plant One will show the effects of the lack of sunlight and water. It would no doubt have wilted if not dead. While Plant Two has newly developed foliage and if it is a flowering plant ... blossoms. The concept has become a principle.

The Importance of Understanding a Principle

In a class involving Medication Administering, students will need to know how to convert measurements in the metric system, apothecary system, and the household system. The following example is a demonstration of how this would be done in a classroom setting. The assumption is that the students are already familiar with the different systems from a previous lesson.

Try to insure that you have everyone's attention and that you explain each concept slowly and clearly.

Try to insure that you have everyone's attention and that you explain each concept slowly and clearly.

The Demonstration Plan

If a demonstration is necessary, advance planning is essential. Planning should include the following steps:

  • Summarize the concept or principle to be demonstrated in a few words. If you have difficulty doing this, it may be because you do not have a clear understanding of the concept or principle yourself. Reading about the concept/principle or talking your ideas over with peers may help you increase your own understanding.
  • Identify a specific example of the concept or principle that can be easily demonstrated.
  • List the steps to be followed during the demonstration, in their correct order.
  • List the key points to be emphasized during the demonstration.
  • List all materials and equipment needed for the demonstration.
  • List any visual aids, such as graphs, transparencies, drawings, and models that are needed to present the concept or principle.
  • Plan how to introduce the demonstration.

    Once your plans are complete, you will need to make the preparations for the demonstration.

  • Prepare the visual aids listed in your plan.
  • Assemble all necessary materials and equipment.
  • Prepare the physical setting in which you will conduct the demonstration so that each student will be able to see and hear comfortably.
  • Practice or rehearse the presentation.

“I will demonstrate how to convert from one measurement system to another. MS PowerPoint slides will assist me in this presentation.”

The order is Pro-Banthine gr ss. You have tablets that are labeled in milligrams. This is the procedure you would use to find out how many milligrams equal ½ gr.

½ gr x ? mg = answer in mg

From memory (or by looking at Table 4-7 in your Administering Medication textbook), you know that 1 gr = 60 mg, so:

½ gr x 60 mg = 30 mg

Now, suppose that your tablets of Pro-Banthine are 15 mg each. How many 15-mg tablets would it take to make 30 mg? Some quick mental figuring tells you that you should give the patient two tablets. If in doubt, you can use the WANT/HAVE formula, now that you have already converted from grains (gr)to milligrams (mg).

WANT/HAVE = ? tablets

30/15= 2 tablets

When you conduct the demonstration, you should perform the steps, giving a simple explanation for each step as you proceed. Observe students throughout to make sure your pace isn’t too fast or too slow. Then summarize it. This can be done either as you proceed through the demonstration or immediately afterwards.

After your demonstration, you need to conduct certain follow-up activities.

  1. Review key points with the class. If a significant number of students missed or misunderstood any key points, you may need to repeat the demonstration.
  2. Have students apply the concept or principle in a new situation so they can generalize their learning.

Closing Comments

This example can be duplicated in demonstrating any concept or principle you are teaching. It is important as a teacher to feel comfortable with the subject matter and then you will be able to exhibit it with confidence to your students. The importance of demonstrating a concept or principle as explained in the Introduction is to give students the foundation needed in understanding why something works in a particular way. Always use reinforcement techniques to assistance your students. The more a concept or principle is practiced ... the better the understanding of it.

© 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS


Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS (author) from Memphis on June 19, 2014:

Students tend to remember a concept better if they have a visual example.

Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS (author) from Memphis on March 21, 2014:

The best way to teach a concept is by demonstration. Sometimes just telling your students a procedure is not good enough. What you see is easier to remember than what you are told.

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