Concept Maps

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1 Concept Maps

Krista Hamilton, Memorial University of Newfoundland

2 Definitions and background

Joseph Novak and his colleagues at Cornell University first proposed the learner-constructed graphic mapping technique to facilitate learning. Through this constructivist approach, learners are given the tools to actively build their own knowledge (Kwon & Cifuentes 2009). Concept mapping is a strategy used in instruction and learning to graphically and meaningfully arrange information around a focal concept (Bernard & Naidu, 1992; Erdogan, 2009). A concept map is generally set up in a hierarchical fashion and is made up of concepts placed into nodes. These nodes are connected by prepositions placed on connecting lines which define a relationship or link between concepts (Bernard & Naidu, 1992; Erdogan, 2009). Concept maps allow learners to reflect on and demonstrate their knowledge of a subject and is thus conducive to a constructivist approach to learning (Erdogan, 2009). For educators, concept mapping is a learning tool that can also be used within a group to facilitate collaboration (Gilbert & Greene, 2001). Concept maps can be created with paper and pencil or they can be created electronically. Examples of current software available for concept map creation includes: MindMaple, Cmap tools and Inspiration

3 Affordances

Electronic or digital concept maps allow learners and educators to do many things that a pencil and paper concept map or other graphic organizer would not allow. One affordance is the flexibility of computer software programming. There are applications currently being researched in which real-time assessment and feedback on concept map creation is available to learners and educators (Wu, Hwang, Milrad, Ke & Huang, 2012). This instant feedback for learners is important to engagement and for educators, it is extremely important for efficiency. Computer software for concept maps also allows for editing, revision, saving, sharing and collaborating. “Online concept-mapping attributes, such as semantic paths, labels, colour-coded nodes, image previews and visuospatial layouts can generally aid the learner in selecting, organizing, and internalizing multimedia-learning content” (Kim & Olaciregui, 2008, p.712). For student and educator collaboration, electronic concept mapping enables drawing and describing a concept map online so that other group members can add to and modify the map as well as attach comments or concerns; it provides a more efficient collaborative tool to share and modify (Hwang, Shi and Chu, 2011; Lee & Nelson, 2005). Using concept maps in collaborative projects enables members to benefit from the distributed intelligence which should lead to a stronger graphical representation and therefore allow a greater amount of knowledge to develop (Gilbert & Greene, 2001). Computer-aided concept mapping also has the affordance of being able to add images, tables etc instead of text alone. Image-based concept mapping provides a more “complete and diverse platform to assist in organizing and structuring knowledge” (Yen, Lee & Chen, 2012, p.318). This visual representation has many advantages as they are quickly and easily recognized and lead to more accurate recall. Errors in an idea can also be easily corrected or adapted (Erdogan, 2009). Another important affordance of digital concept maps is that they can easily be adapted for distance education as a substantial amount of students will use it when given the option (Bernard & Naidu, 1992). Electronic concept maps have an advantage over other graphic organizers in that they can function in many different aspects of education. They can be used as a: (a) strategy for evaluation and assessment, (b) curriculum planning tool, (c) strategy for creative thinking and problem solving, (d) comparison between teacher and learner perspectives, (e) way to reveal learning styles and (f) tool to determine where prior knowledge and misunderstandings arise (Huer, 2005).

4 Constraints

There are some constraints to both types of concept maps, pen-and-paper and also computer-based. In particular, when working with mobile-based concept maps, the user interfaces make the software difficult to operate. Any large scale modifications need to be made on a personal computer and educators, when designing mobile-based activities, need to avoid taking too many concepts into account (Hwang et al., 2011). The scale of this type of mobile-based program is restricted due to the “limitations of the input and output facilities of the mobile devices” (Hwang et al., 2011, p.787). As well, when using an image or mobile-based concept map, students cannot record their ideas textually and it also “may not be entirely appropriate for use in ‘network planning and implementation’” (Yen et al., 2012, p.317). When working with any computer-based concept mapping program, the constraint of availability needs to be taken into consideration. Currently, is nearly impossible to guarantee all students access to this technology 24/7. “Not all students have access to such [mobile] learning devices at present” (Yang, Hwang, Hung & Tseng, 2013, p.175). Constraints which would pertain to both computer and non-computer-based concept maps would include: (a) not being able to quickly assess a concept map without the help of specific software, (b) not being able to give students the time needed to fully execute the development of a proper concept map and (c) not having the time or knowledge to fully train learners to properly develop a concept map. Teachers themselves require more training and continued practice with this tool, especially if it is computer-based (Rye, Landenberger & Warner, 2012). Concept mapping for educators and learners is not immediately simple; it “is rarely used spontaneously by students because it is difficult and … the process of map modification is messy and cumbersome” (Erdogan, 2009, p.823). A constraint that is isolated to non-computer-based concept maps is the ability to add images (other than drawings), videos and links. Time constraints are also much more evident in pen-and-paper concept maps as “students often require and spend significant amounts of time and effort revising and maintaining [pen-and-paper] concept maps” which in turn can result in losing focus on the body of knowledge (Erdogan, 2009, p.822).

5 Links

IHMC Cmap ToolsIntroduction to Concept Mapping Concept Map Creation Tutorial Concept Maps - University of Alberta-CTL Theory Underlying Concept Maps

6 Works Cited

Bernard, R.M. & Naidu, S. (1992). Post-questioning, concept mapping and feedback: A distance education field experiment. British Journal of Educational Technology, 23(1), 48-60. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.1992.tb00309.x

Blake Huer, M. (2005). Using concept maps for educational based implementation of assistive technology: A culturally inclusive model for supervision in special education. Journal of Special Education Technology, 20(4), 51-61.

Erdogan, Y. (2009). Paper-based and computer-based concept mappings: The effects on computer achievement, computer anxiety and computer attitude. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(5), 821-836. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00856.x

Gilbert, N.J. & Greene, B.A. (2001/2002). College students’ collaborative use of Inspiration to generate concept maps in an educational technology class. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 30(4), 389-402. doi:10.2190/44HH-M7WW-YYGW-FVU5

Hwang, G., Shi, Y. & Chu, H. (2010). A concept map approach to developing collaborative Mindtools for context-aware ubiquitous learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 778-789. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01102.x

Huang, H., Chiou, C., Chiang, H., Lai, S., Huang, C. & Chou, Y. (2012). Effects of multidimensional concept maps on fourth graders’ learning in web-based computer course. Computers and Education, 58(3), 863-873. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.016

Kim, P. & Olaciregui, C. (2008). The effects of a concept map-based information display in an electronic portfolio system on information processing and retention in a fifth-grade science class covering the Earth’s atmosphere. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(4). doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00763.x

Kwon, S.Y. & Cifuentes, L. (2009). The comparative effect of individually-constructed computer-based concept maps. Computers & Education, 52(2), 365-375. doi:10.1016/l.compedu.2008.09.01d

Lee, Y. & Nelson, D.W. (2005). Viewing or visualising – which concept map strategy works best on problem-solving performance? British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(2), 193-203. doi:10.111/j.1467-8535.2005.00452.x

Lim, K.Y., Lee, H.W. & Grabowski, B. (2009). Does concept-mapping strategy work for everyone? The levels of generativity and learners’ self-regulated learning skills. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(4), 606-618. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00872x

Martinez, G., Perez, A., Suero, M. & Pardo, P. (2013). The effectiveness of concept maps in teaching physics concepts applied to engineering education: Experimental comparison to the amount of learning achieved with and without concept maps. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(2), 204-214. doi:10.1007/s10956-012-9386-8

Rye, J., Landenberger, R. & Warner, T.A. (2013). Incorporating concept mapping in project-based learning: Lessons from watershed investigations. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(3), 379-392.

Wu, P., Hwang, G., Milrad, M., Ke, H. & Huang, Y. (2012) An innovative concept map approach for improving students’ learning performance with an instant feedback mechanism. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(2), 217-232. doi:10.1111/j.1467.8535.2010.01167.x

Yang, C., Hwang, G., Hung, C. & Tseng, S. (2013). An evaluation of the learning effectiveness of concept map-based science book reading via mobile devices. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(3), 167-178.

Yen, J., Lee, C. & Chen, I. (2011).The effects of image-based concept mapping on the learning outcomes and cognitive processes of mobile learners. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(2), 307-320. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01189.x