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Towards an “Adaptive Concept Map”: Creating an Expert-Generated Concept Map of an Engineering Statics Curriculum

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Evaluation of Teaching Methods for Mechanics Courses

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Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1365.1 - 25.1365.13



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Paper Authors


Jacob Preston Moore Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Jacob Moore is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.

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Robert Scott Pierce Sweet Briar College

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Robert Scott Pierce is an Associate Professor of physics and engineering at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1993. Prior to his teaching career, he spent 13 years in industry designing automated equipment.

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Christopher B. Williams Virginia Tech

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Creating a Concept Map of Engineering StaticsConcept maps are graphical representations of cognitive knowledge structures. They wereoriginally developed as a way to follow and understand changes in student knowledge, but theywere also found to be effective instructional tools. Concept maps consist of labeled nodes thatrepresent concepts, or perceived regularities or patterns, and links which are labeled to indicatethe relationships between the nodes. The authors are exploring ways to use concept maps toorganize and navigate information in a digital textbook for engineering statics. If successful, theconcept mapping tool could be used to cognitively link information between courses inengineering mechanics and then across the entire engineering curriculum.As the first step in this process, the authors set out to capture an expert’s knowledge in the formof a concept map. This paper details the process of capturing expert knowledge of a course, inthis case engineering statics, and organizing this information into a concept map that accuratelyrepresents the information taught in the course. Traditional concept mapping techniques call forthe use of a focus question to limit the scope of the resulting concept map. Because the scope ofengineering statics far exceeds a single focus question, an alternative process for developing themap had to be developed. The authors instead used a bottom-up approach. An experiencedprofessor, someone who had been teaching a statics course for several years and who was veryfamiliar with the content, was chosen to act as the expert in the engineering statics content. Theprocess of gathering this expert’s knowledge began by having the expert brainstorm differentconcepts that were believed to be important and listing all of these ideas. The ideation processwas assisted by looking through existing textbooks and course syllabi. The ideas were thenorganized into several groups based on commonalities. Repeated concepts, concepts outside ofthe scope of the course, and other unnecessary concepts were eliminated during the groupingprocess. The concepts in each group were then organized and linked together to form a conceptmap for each group. During this time, missing concepts were identified and added to the list ofconcepts for each group. After all individual groups were organized into concept maps, conceptswere linked between groups, connecting all of the individual concept maps into one cohesivemap. The validity of the resulting concept map was checked by having two other experiencedstatics instructors examine and evaluate the concept map that was created.

Moore, J. P., & Pierce, R. S., & Williams, C. B. (2012, June), Towards an “Adaptive Concept Map”: Creating an Expert-Generated Concept Map of an Engineering Statics Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22122

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