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The Retention and Usefulness of Concept Maps as Advance Organizers

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Addressing the Human Dimension in Teaching Statics, Dynamics, Mechanics

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Jacob Preston Moore Pennsylvania State University, Mont Alto Orcid 16x16

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Jacob Moore is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Penn State Mont Alto. He has a PhD in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech and a Bachelors and Masters in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include concept mapping, digital textbooks, and additive manufacturing.

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Chris Venters East Carolina University

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Chris Venters is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, USA. He teaches undergraduate courses in engineering design, statics, and fluid mechanics. He earned his Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech in 2014, and his research primarily focuses on conceptual understanding in engineering mechanics courses. He received his M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech and his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University.

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Tracey Carbonetto Penn State University, Lehigh Valley

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Joining the Penn State engineering faculty a year ago, my professional interests as an instructor of engineering are developing and refining methods of engineering instruction that will allow students to gain confidence and to increase their own success. Previous experiences in the metals and piping industry as a principal engineer have allowed me to promote necessary skills which need to be developed in the classroom so that the students have success upon graduation.

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Concept maps are node-link diagrams designed to visualize the topics and relationships between topics that represent a person’s knowledge in a given subject area. Though concept maps were originally conceived as a way to visualize student understanding, concept maps were quickly found to serve as powerful learning tools as well. Concept maps can be used for learning in two ways: they can be student generated after instruction to get students to reflect on what they have learned, or they can be expert generated and used as an overview before more detailed instruction. When expert generated concept maps are used to preface more detailed instruction, they are being used as an advance organizer, presenting a high level overview of information to come in an easy to understand format.

Previous work has shown that concept maps can be powerful advance organizers that enhance student learning. This is presumably because the students internalize the expert maps and use them as scaffolds for subsequent learning, but little work has been done to examine this intermediate step. This work seeks to fill the gap in the literature by specifically examining if expert generated maps presented as advance organizers are internalized by students in an engineering mechanics classroom.

To determine if and how concept maps are internalized when used as advance organizers, a comparison was made between statics students in an experimental group, where concept maps were presented at the beginning of each day’s lecture, and multiple control groups, where concept maps were not presented at the beginning of lecture. For selected subsets of the course material, the instructors of each group were asked to make a concept map of those topics (for the experimental group this matches the concept maps presented in class). At least one month after completing their statics course, participating students were then also asked to create concept maps of the same topic areas. Student concept maps (novice maps) were then compared to their instructor’s maps (expert maps) and a quantitative measure of similarity between the students and instructors was calculated. It was hypothesized that the experimental group, with regular exposure to the expert generated concept maps, would organize their own concept maps in ways that more closely match their instructor’s maps. In addition to concept map similarity measures, a set of relationship questions was also included as part of data collection. This set of questions, developed collaboratively by all the involved instructors, sought to explore student conceptual understanding of the relationships between key topics in engineering statics. The collected data was then scrubbed by one researcher before being blindly evaluated by a second researcher for correctness. The results were then re-identified and overall trends in relationship understanding were examined though the lens of the course sections and in relation to the student generated concept map patterns.

The results of the data collection and analysis are presented, and the implications of the findings are discussed from a theoretical and practical standpoint.

Moore, J. P., & Venters, C., & Carbonetto, T. (2017, June), The Retention and Usefulness of Concept Maps as Advance Organizers Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28999

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