The Concept Anchoring Routine

"Concept Anchoring Routine manual cover photo"

Through the use of the Concept Anchoring Routine, teachers help students understand a new concept by exploring how its key characteristics are similar to those of a familiar concept. The routine is designed to teach complex, abstract concepts in a way that benefits a wide range of students by creating analogies.

In research studies with students in secondary science and social studies classes, high-achieving, average-achieving, and low-achieving students (including those with learning disabilities) who had been taught with the Concept Anchoring Routine answered more test questions correctly than those students who had not received the routine instruction. Students with LD taught with the Concept Anchoring Routine scored an average of 25 percentage points higher than those who were not taught with the routine. Low-achieving, average-achieving, and high-achieving students taught with the Concept Anchoring Routine scored averages of 27, 19, and 7 percentage points higher than their respective groups that were not taught with the routine.

Please note that professional development, coaching, and infrastructure support are essential components to effective implementation of SIM instructional tools and interventions. It is highly recommended that you work with a SIM professional developer. Please email to learn more.

Author(s): Janis A. Bulgren, Jean B. Schumaker, and Donald D. Deshler

Publication Info: Edge Enterprises, 1994

This product is published by Edge Enterprises, Inc.  Professional development is recommended, see the SIM Event page for sessions.


  • Concept Anchoring Routine Research (.pdf)
  • Research Articles:
    • Bulgren, J.A., Deshler, D.D., Schumaker, J.B., & Lenz, B.K. (2000). The use and effectiveness of analogical instruction in diverse secondary content classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(3), 426-441. This article reports the results of three studies on using analogies to teach important and difficult information. These results indicate that use of the Concept Anchoring Table and the Concept Anchoring Routine can enhance student performance with regard to understanding and remembering secondary subject-matter content.
    • Deshler, D.D., Schumaker, J.B., Bulgren, J.A., Lenz, B.K., Jantzen, J.E., Adams, G., Carnine, D., Grossen, B., Davis, B., & Marquis, J. (2001). Making learning easier: Connecting new knowledge to things students already know. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(4), 82-85. This article describes the Concept Anchoring Routine and its use to help adolescents with disabilities grapple with complex concepts

An accessible version of the documents on this site will be made available upon request. Please contact the KU CRL Professional Development Research Institute, at to request the document be made available in an accessible format.