How Not to Lose Your Students with Concept Maps

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					                                                                                                                             How Not to Lose Your Students with Concept Maps
                                                                                                                                                                  Françoise Benay, Katharine Semsar, and Sarah Kennedy
                                                                                                                                          University of Colorado Boulder Science Education Initiative and Dept. of Integrative Physiology


In the reformation of teaching practices in physiology and
other science courses, concept maps have been increasingly                                                                                                                                              Methods & Results
introduced as a tool that promotes meaningful learning and
integration of ideas. Following a faculty training session on                                                                                                                                           Faculty Brown Bag (Spring '07)                                                                                                                                         Conclusions
                                                                                                                                                                                                       Introduction to Concept Mapping
the use of concept maps in the classroom, four Integrative
Physiology faculty members independently began using
                                                                                                                             Immunology (Spring 07)                           Exercise Physiology (M '07)                        Neurophysiology (M '07)                                           Endocrinology (Fall '07)
concept maps in four different core physiology courses.                                                                        Recitation Activity                          Semester long homework activity                         Recitation Activity                                               Recitation Activity
Students in one course in particular had substantially higher                                                                Teaching Assistant Led                          Faculty led homework activity              Teaching Assitant Led: Faculty Implemented                        Teaching Assitant Led: Faculty Implemented
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Concept mapping activities should be clearly aligned with
                                                                                                                                     Goal:                                               Goal:                                             Goal:                                                             Goal:
perceived value in the concept map technique on the end-of-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          course assessments (summative or formative). The
term surveys. Following this result, we used additional end-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         alignment should be done in a way that is both clear for
                                                                                                                              End of Term Survey                                   End of Term Survey                               End of Term Survey                                                        End of Term Survey
of-term survey questions, faculty and teaching assistant                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             instructor but students as well.
interviews, and a review of course materials to assess what
factors lead to greater student value in the technique. Based                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Why? Two possible considerations.
on a review of these materials, we identified two key factors                                                                                                        Please rate how helpful for your learning concept maps are in this course:
                                                                                                                                                              1- not helpful, 2- a little helpful, 3- somewhat helpful, 4 – a fair amount, 5 – a great deal                                                                                          A. Grades are highly motivating factor for students,
that students indicate are important for their acceptance of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         B. Exams may define for students what they are
the technique. One, the mapping activity needs to be                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              supposed to be learning in
appropriately designed to meet the educational goals, i.e. not                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       courses where learning goals do not exist.
excessively complex. Two, there needs to be adequate
feedback from teachers or teaching assistants. When
implemented properly, students view concept mapping as a                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Adequate feedback should be provided to the students.
valuable tool in their learning of physiology, but this requires                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     This feedback can come in various forms:
careful attention to the issues outlined above.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Students in Endocrinology found                                 A. Instructor to student feedback
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      the concept maps significantly                                  B. Peer to peer feedback.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      more helpful for their learning than
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      did students in the other courses
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (ANOVA F=24.8, p<0.001; post
                                       Study Purpose                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hoc for homogeneous subsets:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Student-Newman-Keuls 3.83,
 In this study, we examined student perceptions of
 usefulness of concept mapping across four different                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  p<0.05).
 physiology courses that varied in their implementation.                                                                                                                        ŅPlease explain how helpful for your learning concept maps are in this course."
 Three of the courses had similar responses, with about half
 the students saying concept mapping was of little or no                                                                                 Three SEI Faculty scored open ended responses                                                    Four Categories from Coding Rubric
 value, while in the fourth course students found them far                                                                                          76% Interrater Agreement                                       1. Map Structure, 2. Feedback, 3. Exam Alignment, 4. Learning Styles/Study Habits
 more useful to their learning. With this finding we sought
 to determine what factors led students to find concept                                                                                                                                                                    Main Finding                                                         Second Finding
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Positive student attitudes towards concept mapping                   2. Students value mapping activities when adequate
 maps helpful for their learning compared to the three other                                                                                                                                                correlated with Exam Alignment Category                                         feedback was provided

 Approval: University of Colorado, Boulder Institutional
          Review Board (exempt status, protocol 0108.9)
                            Concept Map Implementation                                                                     Example Quotes from Students Used for Coding                                                             Summary of Student Open-ended Responses                                                                       1. Novak JD, Canas AJ. The theory underlying concept maps and how
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  to construct and use them (Technical Report IMHC Cmap Tools).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Table 5. Summary o f speci fic reasons students gave for help fulness of concept maps.                      Pensicola, FL: Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, 2006-
 Table 4. Concept map implementation in IPHY courses.                                                             Category                    Exam Quot 1
                                                                                                                                                  ple e                                     ple
                                                                                                                                                                                        Exam Quot 2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Spe cific Reasoning C at egories              Endocrinology          Exer cise       Immunology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  01, Rev 01-2008; available at:
                       Endocrinology          Exercise Physiology        Immunology          Neurophysiology                                                                                                                                                                                     (n=41 )            Physiology
                                                                                                                 Exam               e cept
                                                                                                                               ŅTh con mapswere very helpfulfor exam 3                  n                    st
                                                                                                                                                                                ŅI did ot find them useful mo of
                                                                                                                     ment               e se
                                                                                                                               and 2 bcau the est que
                                                                                                                                                   t      stions wer mor
                                                                                                                                                                   e    e                        they
                                                                                                                                                                                time but thought were aform
 Practice maps       With instructor;          With instructor;        With instructor;      With instructor;                                                                                                                                                                                                 NOT helpfu l
                                              physiology-related     immunology-related      non-physiology                    congruent   with th use of the conce t maps The
                                                                                                                                                 e                p       .     of busy work.Ó                                                                                                                                                    2. Allen D and Tanner K. Approaches to Cell Biology Teaching:
                   endocrinology-related                                                                                                                                                                                              Presentation                                                 26%                 83%                23%
                                                                                                  related                                                                                                                               Size (too big)                                            (24%)               (83%)              (13%)
                                                                                                                                                             ,    e
                                                                                                                               first test was more matching and th concept maps                                                         DidnÕt like group work                                     (2%)                (0%)              (10%)
 No. of terms              15-20                       75                      20                   20+
                                                                                                                               did notreally hel with th as much
                                                                                                                                                 p       at        .Ó
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mapping the Journey – Concept Maps as Signposts of Developing
 Source of terms
                         Instructor                 Students
                                              1 per 5-week course
                                                                      1 per 2 weeks for 8
                                                                                             8 per week for 2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wa nted ans wer key
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (8%)    Knowledge Structures. Cell Biol Educ 2: 122-136, 2003.
                       1 per 4 weeks                                                                                 ack
                                                                                                                 Feedb         ŅConept mapswoul hav been usef if there
                                                                                                                                    c             d e              ul               y e
                                                                                                                                                                                ŅThe wer not usefu becau ther
                                                                                                                                                                                                   l        se e                        Wa nted mor e discussion                                  (20%)                (0%)              (31%)
 within course            (4 maps)            (1 cumulative map)             weeks                weeks
                                                                           (4 maps)             (16 maps)
                                                                                                                                      n                                    r
                                                                                                                               had bee some sort of key that you couldcompae            y
                                                                                                                                                                                wasbarel any instruction or help                        Wa nted mor e encoura gement                               (0%)                (0%)              (15%)

 Setting of              Recitation               Homework               Recitation &          Recitation &                    your concep                             her
                                                                                                                                          t map toÉ in orderto see whet or      from th TA. ÉThere was never
                                                                                                                                                                                      e                                               Exa m Alignment ŅBusy workÓ                                  2%                  33%               16%
 activity                                                                 Homework              Homework                       not your had the componen conneted where
                                                                                                                                           all              ts      c           anyactive discussion abou the
                                                                                                                                                                                                   s      t
 Done in groups?   Yes, groups also had to
                    present their maps to
                                               Not necessarily,
                                               though students
                                                                      Yes, groups did not
                                                                     present their maps to
                                                                                             Yes, groups did
                                                                                             not present their
                                                                                                                               they shoul be.Ó
                                                                                                                                        d                                       coursematerial.Ó
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Exa m Alignment Helped with ex am pre paration                 17%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         0%                 3%
                      other groups and         were allowed to       other groups and did     maps to other                                                                                                                           Valu es are given as percents of student s giving specific reasoning.
                                              work outside class     not necessarily work        groups.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you to Dr. David Norris, Dr. Monika Fleshner, Dr.
                     encouraged to give                                                                                                                                                                                               In some cases, stude nts listed multiple reasons . n= number of stude nts giving specific reaso ning.
                   feedback to each other.        together.           together outside of

 Instructor          Some (when asked         Some (when asked
                                                                     class to finish work.
                                                                               No                  No                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Janet Casagrand for use of their course materials and
 Feedback            discussed maps and
                   helped clarify concepts
                                              provided guidance
                                               on how to choose
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  agreement to have us evaluate course practices. Thank
 Exam alignment
                      and connections)
                   100% of corresponding
                                               concepts for map)
                                              N/A (due to the fact          6% of              N/A (due to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  you to the graduate students Robert Thompson and Ashley
 with concept               exams               that each student       corresponding         cancellation of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Bolden who led the recitations and provided information
 mapping                                         chose their own            exams             map activities)
 activity                                      concepts to map)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   about the concept map activities. This research was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  supported by the University of Colorado at Boulder through
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the Science Education Initiative (SEI).

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