The Frayer Model

The ‘Frayer model‘ is a well-used and familiar graphic organiser and an effective model for introducing or exploring existing vocabulary.

First proposed by Dorothy Frayer and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, it promotes critical thinking and helps students to identify and understand unfamiliar vocabulary. They are a useful way to collate key notes and examples and for retrieval quizzing.

The Frayer Model is basically a grid with the key word at the centre surrounded by quartiles labelled “definition”, “examples”, “non-examples” and “characteristics”.

For a really good example of how this tool is used in science teaching then hop onto Dave Gash’s website where he shows how it has been used with Year 9. Looking for some maths examples, then try this site and also this one.

The Frayer model is a simple graphic organiser but can hold a lot of content and thereby expose strengths and weaknesses in knowledge and understanding. Students can show what they know, what they don’t know and what they partly know. It can be used with any age groups and provides a really great visual clue for all learners.


Frayer, D., Frederick, W. C., and Klausmeier, H. J. (1969). A Schema for Testing the Level of Cognitive Mastery. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

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