Concept Maps: Making Learning Meaningful
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During summer 2010, five scholarly papers were authored
collaboratively by Florida Institute of Education (FIE) researchers, England,
Fountain, Hunter, McLemore, Monroe-Ossi, and Wehry. In early October 2010,
Hunter, McLemore, Monroe-Ossi, and Wehry presented the five works at CMC2010 –
4th International Conference on Concept Mapping held in Viña del Mar, Chile.
The conference brought together researchers and practitioners interested in the
uses of concept mapping including, but not limited to, the facilitation of
learning; assessment of connected, meaningful learning; planning instruction
and research; eliciting, capturing, archiving, and using expert knowledge; and
administrative and strategic planning. The presentations were organized around
three FIE initiatives; Quality Early Education for Successful Tomorrows
(QuEST); UNF/FIE PreCollegiate Connections: College Reach-Out Program (UNF/FIE
CROP); and DCPS Title I/FIE Success by Design: PreK-3 (Success by Design).
Through QuEST, FIE partners
with preschool centers committed to working with researchers to plan and
implement purposeful activities focused on improving young children’s learning
opportunities. Hunter’s presentation, Concept Mapping for Planning and Instruction in a Childcare Setting, emerged from this initiative and detailed the processes
and procedures for incorporating concept mapping into instructional planning
and implementation in four classrooms in a Jacksonville childcare setting.
Nonfiction books and hands-on materials were used to build children’s
background knowledge and vocabulary in the health domain. Assessments using
concept maps based on interviews with children were collected at three points
during the instructional period. Results provided information that could be
used to focus instruction.
UNF/FIE CROP, an after-school program implemented in
Jacksonville’s urban core, incorporates academic and social support for
economically disadvantaged sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. The purpose of
UNF/FIE CROP is to build a community of students who see themselves as
academically able, emotionally ready, and active in their pursuit of positive
futures in middle school, high school, and post-secondary education. UNF/FIE
CROP combines an after-school human geography curriculum with technology-rich activities,
college-student mentors, and learning excursions. Examples of technology
include digital/video cameras, Movie Maker, PowerPoint, IHMC C-map tools,
Google Earth, and Nettreker.
Monroe-Ossi’s presentation, Utilizing Concept Mapping as anInstructional Tool in an Afterschool Setting: A Study of At-Risk Students’Conceptual Development in a Complementary Learning Environment, was designed to
determine if meaningful learning occurred in UNF/FIE CROP’s complementary
learning settings in two partner middle schools. Concept mapping was utilized
as an instructional tool in weekly, after-school sessions and as an assessment
tool to identify curricular strengths and weaknesses and students’
misconceptions. The results helped identify curriculum revisions that could
improve UNF/FIE CROP instruction, as well as inform researchers about the
usefulness of concept mapping as an instructional strategy and assessment tool
in a non-traditional context.
Wehry’s presentation, The Development of a
Select-And-Fill-In Concept Map Assessment of Human Geography Knowledge,
reported the decision-making process involved in choosing a concept mapping
task to assess UNF/FIE CROP students’ human geography knowledge. Research was
presented supporting construct-a-map and fill-in concept mapping tasks. The
final map, a select-and-fill-in task, was developed and field-tested with
UNF/FIE CROP students during the first week of May 2010. Analyses indicated
that, across all three grades, the omitted concepts were moderately difficult
and exhibited acceptable reliability.
The FIE/DCPS Success by Design initiative is designed to
develop a well-coordinated early learning and transition system to improve
children’s achievement, promote meaningful family engagement, and provide
professional learning opportunities for grade prekindergarten –grade 3
practitioners. As part of their Success by Design research, England and
McLemore developed professional learning workshops for prekindergarten and
kindergarten teachers. England’s paper, Concept Mapping Professional Learning:
Making a Difference in Prekindergarten Classrooms, reported on the strategies
used in a six-session professional learning series that introduced teachers to
concept mapping and its uses in educational settings. Twenty-three
prekindergarten teachers participated and were asked to complete a survey of
their concerns about implementing concept mapping strategies and a survey of
how often they used concept mapping for instruction, planning, and assessment.
Results from the two surveys were conflicting: The implementation concerns
survey indicated that a majority of the respondents were non-users, and the
user survey indicated that all of the teachers used concept mapping at least
once a month in their classrooms.
McLemore’s presentation, Professional Development for
Kindergarten Teachers: Concept Mapping, described the professional learning of
kindergarten teachers as they acquired the necessary knowledge and skills to
use concept mapping for instructional planning and as an instructional strategy
to promote children’s conceptual development. Teachers completed a survey and
questionnaire at the conclusion of the fifth meeting. Results indicated that
when teachers see the relevance of concept mapping to their daily practice,
they are more likely to implement concept mapping in their classrooms.
This group of FIE researchers has evolved into a concept
mapping team that regularly meets, shares information, and plans future work.
Team interests include concept mapping applications in planning, instruction,
and assessment across a variety of settings. The goal of the team is to expand
and explore the use of concept mapping applications to other internal and