Concept Maps and the Trajectory of Learning for Teachers Peter R. Hester Teacher Education Faculty of the Future June 2, 2006 How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000) “Expert teachers know the structure of their disciplines and this provides them with cognitive roadmaps that guide the assignments they give students, the assessments they use to gauge student progress, and the questions they ask in the give and take of classroom life.” A Cognitive Roadmap for Teaching and Learning “Meaningful learning involves the assimilation of new concepts and propositions into existing cognitive structures" (Novak & Gowin, 1984). Graphic Organizers as Cognitive Road Maps Graphic organizers are designed as visual representations of cognitive structures (knowledge, concepts or ideas). A sampling of graphic organizers is entabled below: Flow chart Fishbone diagram Events chain Venn diagram Brainstorming web Hierarchy diagram Story board Concept map Chart / Matrix Word web KWL chart Cycle diagram File and folder Thinking grid Mind map Sample Graphic Organizers http://www.enchantedlearning.com/graphicorganizers/ Fishbone Diagram Venn Diagram Chart / Matrix KWHL Chart Educational Applications of Graphic Organizers Convey a clear general picture of topics. Reinforce understanding through visualization of relationships between key concepts Help identify misconceptions and/or missing concepts Can be used in creative ways to assess student achievement The Problem How can prospective teachers (ELD-376 students) address perceived gaps in their content preparation in order to better prepare themselves for teaching? ELD-376: Teaching Science Social Studies & the Arts The course has been a major requirement for three distinct populations: junior-level elementary education majors (w/ any CLAES second major) junior-level secondary education majors (w/ science second major) junior-level secondary education majors (w/ social studies second major) Enrollment in ELD-376 Fall 2005 Spring 2006 ELED majors 33 55 2º social studies majors 2º science majors Total enrollment 7 11 2 0 42 66 Trajectory of Learning Experiences • Each student begins by finding a topic they feel uncomfortable about teaching. • Students begin developing an annotated list of resources to learn about their topic and post entries to the online Web-Bib database. • Students create and subsequently modify a concept map for their topic. • Students develop materials to teach their topic to K-12 students (one grade level). Why concept maps? "The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach accordingly" (Ausubel, 1968). A Concept Map of Concept Maps A Constructivist Approach The concept maps that students create in ELD-376 serve two purposes: – They provide the instructor with a “window” onto students’ understanding. – They actively engage students in identifying what they know…and what they need to learn. Data Collected • Concept maps were constructed by pairs of students over the course of each semester using Inspiration™ and laptop computers in the TLC. • A series of questions was asked of students in a “test” on Blackboard™ at the end of the semester (Fall 2005 and Spring 2006). Iteration 1: Physics Student Concept Maps Iteration 2: Physics Iteration 2: Weather Iteration 2: Weather (highlighted by instructor) Iteration 2: Weather (Detail) Web-Bib Entry Screen Web-Bib Sample Entry Inserting a New Web-Bib Record Editing an Web-Bib Existing Record Exporting Web-Bib Records Results of Blackboard “Quiz” QUESTION #1: Do you think that the concept mapping activities we did in class this semester were useful to your development as a teacher? (n = 97) Perceived usefulness of concept maps Fall 2005 Spring 2006 Total Useful 32 51 83 Not useful 6 8 14 QUESTION #1: Do you think that the concept mapping activities we did in class this semester were useful to your development as a teacher? Student response - The concept map is a useful graphic organizer because it literally lets me visualize the connections between the various aspects in a particular unit. When I can see that two concepts can be connected, I am much more likely to understand the content. Results of Blackboard “Quiz” QUESTION #2: Did you make any changes in your concept map over the course of the semester ? (n = 98) Perceived changes made on concept maps Fall 2005 Spring 2006 Total Major changes 24 33 57 Minor changes 10 17 27 No changes 5 9 14 QUESTION #2: Did you make any changes in your concept map over the course of the semester ? Student response - Throughout the semester, I have added a lot of information to my concept map …My map was constantly changing [as] I was bringing in new ideas and going in different directions…Just through adding the new information, I was able to see how I could incorporate science into my other lessons and classes. Results of Blackboard “Quiz” QUESTION #3: Do you expect to use concept mapping as a teaching or learning tool in the future? (n = 98) Prediction of future concept map use Fall 2005 Spring 2006 Total Will use 34 53 87 Will not use 5 6 11 QUESTION #3: Did you make any changes in your concept map over the course of the semester? Student response - I most definitely plan to use concept mapping as a teacher ….[and] as a learning tool in the future. I am a very visual learner, and this activity gave me a new way to learn information. I think I will use concept mapping when I need assistance in relating information and making connections. Summary of Responses to “Quiz” Questions • ~85% indicated that they felt concept maps were useful • ~58% indicated making major changes, ~28% indicated making minor changes, ~14% indicated making no changes to concept maps during the semester • ~90% indicated that they plan to use concept maps in future teaching and learning Future Work • Analyze the relationship between the concept maps that students produce and their WebBib entries (the Web-Bib database currently contains ~2200 annotated sources). • Qualitatively analyze student responses to Blackboard “quiz” questions in order to improve concept mapping instruction and Web-Bib resource. • Conduct a longitudinal study to examine usage of concept mapping as a tool for teaching and learning among Rider Education graduates. Concept mapping software: www.inspiration.com cmap.ihmc.us Graphic organizers: www.enchantedlearning.com/graphicorganizers www.graphic.org/goindex.html Thank You!