The Concept Comparison Routine

"Concept Comparison Routine manual cover photo"

The Concept Comparison Routine is designed to help students understand concepts by analyzing how they are the same and how they are different. Through use of the routine, teachers and students explore the characteristics of two or more concepts, identify the characteristics that are shared or not shared by the concepts, name overarching categories for sets of characteristics they have identified, and summarize the similarities and differences.

Research with students enrolled in general education secondary science and social studies classes showed that students correctly answered substantially more test questions related to information that had been presented through use of the Concept Comparison Routine than test questions related to information presented using traditional teaching methods.

Students with learning disabilities and other low-achieving students correctly answered an average of 71.2 percent and 86.4 percent, respectively, of the test questions associated with information presented through use of the routine, compared to 56.7 percent and 62.6 percent of the questions associated with information presented through traditional means. The experimental study involved 107 students.

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, 1995

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


  • Concept Comparison Routine Research (.pdf)
  • Research Articles:
    • Bulgren, J.A., Lenz, B.K., Schumaker, J.B., Deshler, D.D., & Marquis, J.G. (2002). The use and effectiveness of a comparison routine in diverse secondary content classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 356-371. This article reports the results of two studies of the Concept Comparison Routine: Study 1 provides evidence that students benefit from use of the routine and graphic organizer device, and Study 2 provides evidence that teachers can learn to use the device quickly.
    • Schumaker, J.B., Fisher, J.B., & Walsh, L.D. (2010). The effects of a computerized professional development program on teachers and students with and without disabilities in secondary general education classes. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33, 111-131. Two studies indicate a computerized Concept Comparison Routine professional development program was at least as effective as a face-to-face workshop on measures of teacher learning and student results.
    • Bulgren. J., & Scanlon, D. (1997). Instructional routines and learning strategies that promote understanding of content area concepts. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 41(4), 292-302. This article provides examples of using content enhancement routines (Concept Diagram, Comparison Table, ORDER) to promote an understanding of middle and secondary school content area 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.