June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.269.1 - 15.269.9
Using Centering Resonance Analysis to Assess Student Reports
Knowledge is organized according to the meaning of words that defines the relationships established among the ideas that the word represents. Mental schemas are networks of these interconnected and interrelated ideas. In order to represent the knowledge structures that humans have in their minds, they can be represented spatially as concept maps. The mental schemas in memory and the concept maps that represent them consist of nodes, or ideas, and labeled links that represent the relationships among them .
The construction of concept maps aids student learning by requiring students to analyze the underlying structure of the concepts they are studying . This process of creating concept maps engages a learner through her identification of the important concepts in the knowledge domain under study, arranging those concepts spatially, identifying the links or relationships among those concepts, and labeling the nature of the links between concepts. The construction of concept maps leads to meaningful learning—the restructuring of new concepts with previously acquired knowledge. Either hand-drawn or computer-based tools can be used to externalize students’ mental schemas .
This paper posits another means of representing mental schemas—using a written text, such as a project report, to represent an individual’s knowledge. Assuming that explicit textual artifacts are a reasonable representation of an individual’s mental schema, then network text analyses can be used to summarize and represent the text. The basis of network text analysis is that the co- occurrence of concepts within a textual artifact represents a network of meaning. According to , the concepts in the text become nodes, and the nodes are linked if their corresponding concepts co-occur in the text. Once text is formed into a network, the text can be manipulated and analyzed.
Centering resonance analysis (CRA) is an approach for text analysis that uses the premises of centering theory . A center is defined as an utterance that serves as a link to other utterances in the discourse segment that contains it . Centering theory describes coherence as “a backward and forward reference to ‘centers’ of linked meaning and emphasizes noun phrases as the basic centers of reference” [9, p. 275]. CRA analyzes text by creating word networks of nouns and noun phrases that represent main concepts, their influence, and their relationships . CRA calculates two scores for each individual word network—influence and resonance. Influential words are described as facilitating “the connection of meaning among many different words, across very different parts of the overall word net” [9, p. 278]. The influence of words is measured by their “betweenness centrality” within the word network. The betweenness centrality
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