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Concept Mapping As A Form Of Student Assessment And Instruction

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Assessment of Biomedical Engineering Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.322.1 - 7.322.16



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Paper Authors

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Paul King

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Joan Walker

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Main Menu Session 2002-1225

Concept Mapping as a Form of Student Assessment and Instruction

Joan M. T. Walker, Paul H. King

Psychology and Human Development / Biomedical Engineering Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN 37203


As part of a concerted effort to improve Biomedical Engineering (BME) education, the Vanderbilt-Northwestern-Texas-Harvard/MIT Engineering Research Center (VaNTH ERC) is investigating alternative methods for assessing students’ conceptual knowledge, and integrating an array of diverse competencies into the curriculum. One potentially useful tool for achieving these goals is concept mapping or the spatial representation of concepts and their interrelationships. This paper describes three studies investigating this potential. In Study One, three groups (i.e., BME undergraduates, graduate students and faculty) constructed concept maps in response to the question, “What are the 10-20 most important concepts in BME?” Group differences were consistent with expert-novice distinctions in structural knowledge. Faculty generated dense networks of higher-order principles (e.g., “the synthesis of engineering and medicine”) and their applications (e.g., “interdisciplinary communication”) while students generated fewer connections among concepts pertaining largely to domain content (e.g., “biotechnology,” “physiology”). Study 2 conducted longitudinal and cross-sectional examinations of the development of expertise. Undergraduates in a yearlong design course responded at two different time points to the question, “What is your current conceptual understanding of what is involved in the BME design process?” Analyses revealed that, relative to maps constructed at the beginning of the course, end of the semester maps used more precise vocabulary, were more coherently constructed, and contained a greater number of connections among concepts. Student maps were also compared to a criterion map created by the course instructor. Study Three will investigate concept mapping as a form of instruction. Learning outcomes of students receiving traditional (i.e., taxonomy-driven presentation of concepts) and innovative (i.e., use of concept mapping as an advance organizer) instruction are being compared. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the role of concept mapping as a form of student assessment and instruction, and ultimately, a means to promoting lifelong learning.


Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference &Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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King, P., & Walker, J. (2002, June), Concept Mapping As A Form Of Student Assessment And Instruction Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10185

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