Concept Mapping Assessment of Media Assisted Learning in Interdisciplinary Science Education

Abstract: Acquisition of conceptual knowledge is a central aim in science education. In this study we monitored an interdisciplinary hypermedia assisted learning unit on hibernation and thermodynamics based on cooperative learning. We used concept mapping for the assessment, applying a pre-test/post-test design. In our study, 106 9th graders cooperated by working in pairs (n= 53) for six lessons. As an interdisciplinary learning activity in such complex knowledge domains has to combine many different aspects, we focused on long-term knowledge. Learners cooperatively working constructed computer-supported concept maps which were analysed by specific software. The data analysis encompassed structural aspects of the knowledge corresponding to a target reference map. After the learning unit, the results showed the acquisition of higher-order domain-specific knowledge structures which indicates successful interdisciplinary learning through the hypermedia learning environment. The benefit of using a computer-assisted concept mapping assessment for research in science education, and in science classrooms is reflected.

Finally, let us briefly review concept mapping as a research tool. The dyads constructed their concept maps very quickly and efficiently by using the computer-based concept mapping program. The computer assisted empirical analysis of learners' concept maps clearly showed learning effects and allowed for direct interpretation of their knowledge and skills. Paper-andpencil concept mapping often has to cope with practical problems like, for instance, irreversibility of drawn proposition, difficulties with erasing or adding concepts and relations in a pre-existing map, 'translation'- or interpretation-errors. However, constructing concept maps on-screen was efficient and very intuitive for our learners. Furthermore, a comparison of concept map data used in this study and the data of the former study mentioned above (Girwidz et al. 2006) showed similar tendencies in individual learning, but also on-going aspects related to knowledge structures. Consistent results about retention and conceptual knowledge were found, indicating a sufficient validity of the procedure for those aspects. However, most important is the innovative possibility to get insights into structural aspects of knowledge and the linkage of concepts. Nevertheless, concept map assessment still is not a common tool in the science education community and more experience is needed.


Research in Science Education (in press) - Manuscript Number: RISE240R2