A teacher's perspective on concept mapping

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Malesza, Linda
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2001
There is a perception in education today that student learning needs to be improved but specific tools to do this seem lacking. From a teacher's perspective, learning can be improved only when students have been taught the skills or strategies that improve the way in which they learn. To this end, I undertook this study to investigate the educational value of concept mapping as a study skill/learning strategy. Research has shown that learning requires information to be encoded into memory using a variety of strategies and then retrieved as needed. Concept mapping creates a graphic representation of one's knowledge using a variety of methods, thereby, encoding the information into memory. This makes it a useful tool for studying and learning. The next step was to observe the effects of concept mapping in the classroom and determine its value to both student and teacher. Students in one of my senior high school biology classes were taught to map and encouraged to use maps in preparation for all chapter and unit tests. Observations of student behaviors were made and noted in ajoumal, along with personal comments as to the benefits and drawbacks for student learning and teacher workload. Finally, I evaluated what had been learned. The results demonstrated that concept mapping was good for learning and for the teacher. The positive benefits included more on-task student behaviors, less wasted class time, an overall improvement in the quality of assigned tasks, and interesting and enjoyable class discussions. Evaluating the maps using curricular criteria was quick and easy. Students who embraced the technique found the benefits to their liking and most students were at least able to make changes in their study techniques. The drawbacks to the use of mapping were the amount of time required for students to master the technique and see measurable improvements in test results. This meant that one had to continually remind and encourage students to continue to use this "new" form of studying. Overall, I concluded that concept mapping is a useful tool to improve student learning and as such, it needs to be part of one's teaching strategies.
vi, 58 leaves ; 29 cm. --
Learning -- Graphic methods , Study skills