Strategies for Defining Ideas and/or Words
Note that all the definitions rely on connecting with things with which the audience is familiar.
- Genus/Differentia: Locate a category that the audience will recognize then locate the idea within that category. "A physician is a
highly trained expert in physical health."
- Comparison/Contrast: Draw comparison or contrast with some similar idea that the audience is familiar with. "A health care
system should be designed to promote health not to cure illness like ours does now." [Note: the idea here is a preventive system of
- By Example: Defines by locating an example of the idea with which the audience is familiar. "The Canadian health care system uses
a board to define optimal treatment outcomes and then compares the performance of hospitals with that optimum. Thus, quality can
- By Detail: Provides extensive information to fill out the understanding of the idea. "Most of my life deals with health care. My
husband has Alzheimers and is in a nursing facility. My son has been hurt in a work accident and cannot take care of himself. His
wife is currently in the hospital taking cancer treatment. I am the only support for all these people and my life savings is just about
- By Origin: Traces an idea chronologically to reveal something about its character. "Modern hospitals as storehouses of the sick
grow out of the notion of institutionalizing the mentally ill to relieve families of their care."
- Etymological: Related to origin but traces the linguistic development of a word to locate the meaning of its referent. "Medicine
involves at its heart the physician. The word itself comes to our language from a Latin root that meant a physician."
- Negatively: Locates an idea by what it is not. "This program is not socialism."
- Operational: Describes how the idea would work in chronological detail. "With my voucher program you would go to the doctor
and merely present the doctor with your voucher number before you receive treatment. The doctor would provide proof of your
treatment that would be sent to you for your signature as a description of the health care you received."
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