Semantic feature analysis Template
What It Is:
Semantic feature analysis uses grids that examine essential vocabulary and features/ideas. The Terms are listed verticially and different features are listed horizontally. Students can use check marks or pluses and minuses to indicate which features apply to which terms. Because of this, semantic feature analysis is a strategy that you would often use when students have already had an introduction to the content and terminology. Of course, this doesn't mean that there aren't situations where it couldn't be used as a sort of anticipatory activity.
Semantic Feature Analysis in Use (Our Example):
We examined the five kingdoms of organisms; all living things belong to one of these kingdoms based upon characteristics that they have.
We modified a reading and gave students a grid with the five terms they needed to know (the five kingdoms) and some of the features filled in. Leaving some spaces blank for students to add in their own features culled from the reading can enhance their reading and understanding. In this situation, they are the ones that determined what features were important.
What is also very important is to have students explain their rationale. Having them justify their choices ensures that they have a valid reason for connecting terms with particular features.
Why It's Helpful:
Semantic feature analyis helps students to
-understand/reinforce the meaning of a term
-compare terms and associate them with each other
-understand the similarities and differences between the terms
-differentiate between related terms
-catergorize and classify (which is especially important to us science folks)
It helps students
-evaluate their own knowledge (and teachers can use SFA to evaluate students' knowledge too)
Examples in Other Content Areas:
-examining key political figures (not the best in-depth examination, but you get the point)
-examining the different types of governments
-compare myths and fables
-types of quadrilaterals
-uh, sorry...I'm sure you can all come up with something
A black-line master