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Usability Analysis Of A Concept Map User Interface For An On Line Learning Environment

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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

IT-based Instructional Technologies

Tagged Division

Information Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1300.1 - 14.1300.12



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Paper Authors

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Susan Miertschin University of Houston

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Cheryl Willis University of Houston

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

Usability Analysis of a Concept Map User Interface for an Online Learning Environment


A concept map is a graphical representation of relationships among concepts. Construction of concept maps using modern concept mapping software has been suggested as an active learning strategy with potential for improved learner outcomes, particularly among students native to a digital environment. In addition, modern concept mapping software enables instructors and students to create visual navigation structures through complex multi-resourced knowledge domains, such as the content of a course. Value in visual navigation structures has been suggested for its relevance to organizing information and representing knowledge, especially for visual learners. This paper presents background information an examination of a concept map user interface in terms of usability.

Digital Concept Maps

Understanding that mental representations of knowledge and understanding are secreted away inside of human brains, concept maps are external semantic representations of such knowledge. Concept maps emerged from the work of cognitive psychologists who formulated theories and developed understanding of the way humans learn. The process by which humans build knowledge is complex, but there is agreement that as the brain processes inputs into information, each person organizes the inputs and information in a way that is unique for that individual, so that everything that a person learns and experiences is understood and appreciated by her in her own unique way. Each human’s personal organization of input as information, or her knowledge, is her personal mental schema. The term schema used here means a generalized mental structure that is an abstract representation of events, objects, and relationships in the world. Concept maps are spatial semantic representations of a person’s mental schema about a topic 1.

A concept map (a.k.a. semantic network, mind map) is a graphical two-dimensional representation of concepts expressed semantically and their interrelationships. It represents the mental schema of the creator of the map – his unique way of understanding a concept in relation to others 2. Nodes of a concept map are two-dimensional shapes that represent concepts, and labeled lines called links represent relationships between concepts. A pair of concepts linked with a named relationship is called a knowledge element or proposition. Each knowledge element formalizes an idea such as “optical network – is medium for – transporting data” or “variance theory – predicts – level of outcome variable.” A simple concept map created with Microsoft Visio software is shown in Figure 1.

Miertschin, S., & Willis, C. (2009, June), Usability Analysis Of A Concept Map User Interface For An On Line Learning Environment Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5534

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