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A Paradigm For Comprehensive Concept Map Based Modeling Of Student Knowledge

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Student Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.83.1 - 14.83.11



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Paper Authors


Ricky Castles Virginia Tech

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Ricky T. Castles is a computer engineering PhD student. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering in 2003, earning Summa Cum Laude honors. He earned a Masters of Science degree in Computer Engineering in 2006 and a Masters of Science degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering - human factors option in 2008. He anticipates completion of his PhD in 2009. His research interests include knowledge representation, physiological data modeling, mechatronics, and artificial intelligence.

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Vinod Lohani Virginia Tech

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VINOD K. LOHANI is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Education and an adjunct faculty in Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. He received a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1995. His areas of teaching and research include engineering education, international collaboration and hydrology & water resources.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Paradigm for Comprehensive Concept Map-Based Modeling of Student Knowledge


The current method of modeling the level of understanding students have of course content with a single letter grade is primitive at best. The simplification of weeks of learning into a single character representation does little to convey what a student ultimately knows. Two students who receive the same grade in a course may, and often do, have a very different level of mastery of various course concepts. This paper presents a new paradigm for knowledge modeling and assessment based on concept maps and concept inventories.

Under this assessment method, student maps are generated to graphically depict a comprehensive model of student understanding of course concepts. This assessment paradigm begins by creating a comprehensive concept map that depicts each of the relevant concepts and relationships within the topic area being studied. Based upon a concept-inventory-driven analysis of student knowledge, a concept map representing the subset of the comprehensive map that students have mastered is generated as a representation of each student’s knowledge.

This paper presents an example of how such an assessment paradigm has been implemented in a mechatronics course unit in a large freshman engineering course. This course unit introduces students to many concepts from electrical, computer, and mechanical engineering. The unit includes an online lecture and a hands-on, lab-based activity in which students build a simple mobile robot. Over 1400 students participated in this course unit in Fall 2008. While the scope of this work is within a single course unit, this paper describes how such modeling can be done on a large scale to represent student knowledge gains in an entire course or even an entire degree program.

The methods used for building the comprehensive concept map and an appropriate concept inventory are described. The software developed to generate student maps based on responses to a concept inventory is also discussed. Many applications of this paradigm are described including the use of such assessment methods to augment university admissions data, the ability to replace or augment transcripts and resumes with detailed student maps, the development of college rankings based on student learning outcomes, and objective faculty teaching evaluation based on student learning outcomes.


Much work has been done in attempting to discover how people learn[1] and the processes involved in general cognition[2]. Concept maps have become more widely used in education as both tools for facilitating student learning[3] and for academic research and knowledge modeling[4]. Concept maps provide a general structure for outlining conceptual knowledge and relationships. Concept maps take on the form of directed graphs where nodes on the graph indicate concepts and the edges of the graph indicate the relationships between those concepts. In Figure 1 a concept map is used to depict the features and utility of concept maps as a modeling tool. Concept maps may be used by students to outline their own understanding of

Castles, R., & Lohani, V. (2009, June), A Paradigm For Comprehensive Concept Map Based Modeling Of Student Knowledge Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5617

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