Concept mapping thesis

There has been relatively little recent research to test the latter assumption, but in the past, Anderson ; found little relationship between subject-matter preparation and student achievement in school science. In the recently developed MAT Master of Arts in Teaching program for science and mathematics teachers at COmell University, we chose to select students in the junior year of their undergraduate studies and to have them begin coursework in education at the same time. We wanted them to observe, from early on, the faulty learning patterns and knowledge structures of college and high school students, in part by conducting structured clinical interviews of students and by doing tutorial work.

For most of the students in our programs, the meaning of meaningful learning was totally new, and shifting their learning to predominantly meaningful learning patterns was not easy. This situation is not hopeless, however. We have been pleased with the progress we have seen in our MAT students as they advanced through our three-year program. While the Beyerbach and Smith study and the Hoz, Tomer, and Tamir study suggest some of the problems and issues that need to be addressed, they also show some of the promise for the use of tools such as concept mapping in research and teacher preparation.

The general picture recognized today is that American science education lags behind that of most technologically advanced countries. Concept mapping, I believe, provides a way to overcome this problem. As noted previously, most preservice and in-service teachers we have worked with still see science as a large body of information to be mastered, and less often as a method for constructing new knowledge about the universe.

It remains an enormous challenge to help teachers and their teachers i. There are fundamental epistemological problems that need to be addressed, as well as fundamental psychological problems that need attention Novak, ; Duschl, Solving these problems will not be easy. Working with teachers in grades four through eight, a series of concept maps was constructed during six three-and-one-half-hour sessions.

Concept Maps

They found significant changes in the maps the teachers prepared, moving toward better hieWhical m g e m e n t with more fundamend superordinate concepts and greater detail, explicitness. They conclude that the use of concept maps with these teachers changed their view of curriculum-with important implications for teaching and learning. To construct these, Fisher and her colleagues have used a cut-and-paste technique which they have found useful for curriculum planning.

Although chapter authors only received minimal training in the technique of concept mapping, most produced good maps to represent the knowledge structure of their chapters. Moreover, it was relatively easy to see the interrelationships between concepts in various chapters. Similar materials can be found in other recently published science textbooks. Textbooks form the curriculum for most science courses and those textbooks written for the least-able students evidence the least elaboration of concepts. Yet most studies dealing with reading comprehension show that texts which provide more elaboration of the ideas presented are more comprehensible, especially to novices, than texts which offer less elaboration.

Lloyd reviews other issues related to reading comprehension and some relevant research. Lloyd selected the topic of photosynthesis and compared three different textbooks, targeting three different student populations, on the degree of elaboration of the concept of photosynthesis. Using concept maps to represent the concepts and relationships in each textbook, Lloyd found the least elaboration of photosynthesis in the textbook written for the least-able population of students.

This, she concludes, is not likely to help these students understand photosynthesis-a basic biological phenomenon. A study with two or three student populations on two or three textbook passages would help to provide a more definitive answer to the question of the extent to which better elaboration of concepts in textbooks might improve the scientific literacy of our graduates.

The challenge has been not only to help students elaborate the conceptual understanding they already possess, but especially to modify those knowledge structures that contain misconceptions or alternative conceptions or frame- works. The latter has been notoriously intractable to conventional classroom instruction. These data show that concept maps can be a highly sensitive tool for measuring changes in knowledge structure, especially when carefully controlled, quality instruction is offered.

In his comment. Z0k-r raises the issue of whether or not concept maps can apply to all subject matter. In the one and one-half decades that we have worked with this tool, we have not found any subject matter domain that is not amenable to representation with concept maps. Some researchers make the distinction between conceptual knowledge and procedural knowledge.

We see no epistemological foundation for this Novak, There are significant epistemological issues that need to be addressed regarding rep- resentation of knowledge and knowledge structures, but that discourse moves beyond the scope of this special issue. Linn and her colleagues will undoubtedly speak to many relevant epistemological concerns. Interest in this subject has increased dramatically in recent years and I would anticipate that this increase will continue exponentially for the next decade or two.

For three-quarters of a century, behavioral psychology, driven by empiricisvpositivist epistemology, dominated the field of psychology and influenced education e. Cognitive psychologies have now largely displaced behavioral psychology, especially with respect to human learning. The recent international conference on the history and philosophy of science in science teaching held at Florida State University points toward new thinking that is needed in order to employ learning tools effectively see Herget, References Anderson, K. The relative achievement of the objectives of secondary school science in a representative sample of fifty-six Minnesota schools.

Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Anderson, K. The kachers in a representative sampling of Minnesota schools. Science Education, Ausubel, D. The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York: Grune and Stratton. Ausube], D. Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.

Biological Science: A Molecular Approach. Lexington, MA: D. London: Metheun. Carey, s. Conceptual Changes in Childhood. Cummins, R. London: Fontana. Donn, S. Driver, R. The Pupil as Scientist. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Duschl, R. New York: Teachers College Press.

Edmondson, K. Feldsine, J. Concept mapping: A method for detection of possible student misconceptions. Helm and J. Novak, Eds. Flavell, J. Cognitive Development, 2nd ed. General Accounting Office. Washington, D. Hangen, J. Educational experience as a factor in bulimia and anorexia. Harris, P.

Oxford: Basil Blackwell Limited. Helm, H. Herget, D. Matthews, G. Philosophy and the Young Child. Dialogues with Children. Moreira, M. Concept maps as tools for teaching. Journal of College Science Teaching, 8 5 , Mapas Conceituais. Sao Paulo, Brazil: Editora Morase. The importance of conceptual schemes for science teaching. The Science Teacher, 31 6 , Novak, J. Harris, Eds. Audio-tutorid techniques for individualized science instruction in the elementary school. Triezenberg, Ed. A Theory of Education. Applying psychology and philosophy to the improvement of laboratory teaching.

The American Biology Teacher, 41 8 , Leaming theory applied to the biology classmom. The American Biology Teacher, 42 5 , Applying learning psychology and philosophy of science to biology teaching. The American Biology Teacher, 43 1. Overview of the international seminar on misconceptions in science and mathematics. Metaleaming and metaknowledge strategies to help students learn how to learn.

The concept map as a learning tool. Improvement of students' motivation to learn English literature

These results suggest that cooperative learning methods are feasible in many classroom situations and likely to have positive effects on achievement and other outcome variables. Slavin conducted 41 studies of cooperative learning groups in regular classrooms and observed significantly greater learning by experimental groups in 26 of these studies. The results of only one study showed significantly greater learning in a control group.

Another review of Student Team Learning methods indicated significant achievement gains by students in 29 of 35 experimental groups. In most cases, control groups were composed of subjects working in traditionally taught classes studying the same sets of objectives as the experimental groups. None of the studies on Student Team Learning methods resulted in findings favoring control groups Slavin, Cooperative Learning and Affective or Collaborative Growth Positive effects on outcomes other than achievement have also been impressive. Researchers have concluded that student attitudes toward school, teachers, subjects including science , and instructional activities are more positive as a result of participating in cooperative formats than under competitive or individualized conditions.

Cooperative learning structures have also reduced math and science anxiety for girls expressing such concerns. Compared to competitive and individualized conditions, students working cooperatively engage in more positive interpersonal relationships with peers. This is characterized by increased frequency of acts of assistance, encouragement, and friendliness and holds true regardless of differences in student ability level, sex, handicapping conditions, ethnic membership, or social class Johnson et al. Students cooperatively involved in problem solving situations seek new information from each other more than students working competitively and make optimal use of information provided by other students.

Academic self-confidence is promoted as a result of perceived acceptance of verbal contributions, and low-achieving students benefit from immediate peer tutoring. In addition, a sense of accomplishment can result from suggesting solutions to problems Johnson et al. Some researchers have investigated the importance of developing interpersonal social skills for cooperative group success.

Methods like Learning Together that set a high priority on developing collaborative skills have proven less likely to produce significant advantages in achievement over traditional formats Slavin, Johnson and Johnson maintained, however, that as the quality of interaction in small groups is enhanced through training, students spend more time on tasks and engage in more detailed explanations.

Students develop better social skills and engage in them more frequently when the teacher monitors this behavior for the accumulation of group bonus points. Heterogeneous Grouping Cooperative learning experiences in heterogeneous classrooms tend to promote greater cognitive and affective perspective taking than do competitive or individualistic conditions with group members being viewed as enriching resources with different perspectives. Students working cooperatively demonstrate greater acceptance of differences among peers, and researchers focusing on heterogeneous classes have found the most positive acceptance levels in mainstreamed situations where learning handicapped students worked cooperatively with nonhandicapped classmates Johnson et al.

In addition, researchers have indicated improved race relations among students working cooperatively in integrated classrooms and have suggested that the use of cooperative learning in heterogeneous classrooms can reduce the need for separate special education classes and ability tracking Slavin, This greater inclusion of minority students resulted in less difference between the achievement of minority and majority students when intergroup cooperation was used.

These effects are attributed to the procedure of linking minority students positively with majority students in the classroom. Studies have also been conducted to investigate the effects on student achievement of group composition and the interaction patterns of students during group meetings Webb, These studies involved groups of four students whose interactions were tape recorded for later analysis. Results of these studies suggest that giving explanations to other group members correlates positively with achievement and that explaining material to others can be an effective learning experience for the explainer as well as the person receiving the explanation.

In addition, students who ask pertinent questions and succeed in getting their questions answered demonstrate higher levels of performance on achievement measures than their peers who did not ask questions. Cohen has found that gains in achievement are directly related to the frequency of productive student-student interaction, and that status factors can affect this frequency.

Expectations for academic competence can become linked to social position resulting in domination of interactive patterns by popular students. To assure that all students benefit from group interaction, Cohen advocated training programs and role assignments to facilitate participation of all members. This heterogeneity contributes to positive student- student interaction by providing a wide range of experiential input and points of view. When heterogeneity of cooperative learning groups is discussed in the literature, integration by gender, race, and academic achievement are all required.

Perhaps this is partly because of the heavy emphasis that has been placed upon cooperative learning as a method for improving race relations in schools Slavin, Becker conducted a reanalysis of accumulated data on gender differences and science achievement and concluded that gender differences were a weaker predictor of scientific outcomes than ethnicity, race, or cognitive ability.

Becker concluded that subject matter content was the only area in which significant differences between males and females were found, with males showing advantages over females in studies of biology, general science, and physics.

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In a recent cooperative learning study involving students in intermediate-grade level science classrooms Conwell et al. These groups were heterogeneous for gender and race and participated in an inquiry-based science activity where manipulatives were used to test ideas. In this study, males were found to be significantly more influential within the group than females with regard to decision making.

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This was manifest both by more verbal initiation of proposed solutions to problems and by more active testing of hypotheses with manipulatives. Females, on the other hand, when acting as facilitators, were significantly better than males at encouraging all members to participate in activities. Webb investigated the effects of gender group composition on achievement and patterns of interaction. In this study, students were heterogeneously placed into cooperative learning groups with four members. Groups could be composed of a equal numbers of males and females, b three males and one female majority-male groups , and c three females and one male majority-female groups.

The results of this study indicated that achievement and interaction patterns were nearly identical for both boys and girls in groups composed of equal numbers of males and females. In majority-male groups and majority-female groups, however, males showed higher achievement than females. In majority female groups, females focused much of their attention on the male member of the group who was often apathetic to their requests. In the majority-male groups, males focused their attention on the other males and tended to ignore the female member. Johnson and Johnson maintained that high achievers working in heterogeneous cooperative groups perform as well as bright students working competitively or individually on tests of achievement.

High achievers in cooperative groups have scored higher on tests of retention, used higher level reasoning strategies more frequently, and engaged in more in-depth critical analyses and elaborative explanations Johnson et al. Their development of collaborative skills and friendships while engaging in cooperation is believed to have a positive influence on their self-esteem and attitudes toward subject matter and the instructional experience.

Structured Controversy Involved participation in cooperative learning groups inevitably produces conflicts of ideas and opinions Johnson et al. These academic disagreements can range from mild negotiation to heated argumentation. Findings from these studies suggest that controversy can have a positive influence on learning within a cooperative context. Cooperative controversies utilize the elements of positive goal and resource interdependence to minimize negative peer conflict.

Peer academic support is maintained while controversies are discussed without displays of negative attitudes among participants. In a structured controversy, the teacher assigns students to groups of four that are heterogeneous with regard to achievement, gender, and ethnicity. Each group is then separated into two pairs. The format for these presentations provides an opportunity for discussion of differences and verbalization of both positive and negative criticism. After this occurs, student pairs are instructed to reverse their perspectives and present the opposing position as sincerely and forcefully as they can.

Following this procedure, students drop their advocacy, compare the strengths and weaknesses of the two positions, and attempt to reach a group consensus on the issue. This consensus is exemplified in a quality group report supporting their position ideally a synthesis of the two points of view on which all group members will be evaluated Johnson et al. Individual accountability takes the form of a test on content covered in both positions, an oral presentation with all group members contributing, or both. Groups whose members all score above a preset criterion of excellence receive some form of recognition.

The collaborative skills encouraged in such cooperatively structured controversies stress criticism of ideas but not individuals as intellectual positions are advocated, criticized, and evaluated.

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The intention of such a structured format is that all ideas are brought forth and then synthesized into a consensual decision. Research findings support numerous academic and social benefits derived from participation in such structured controversies. Studies have compared structured controversies to competitive debates, individualized instruction, and groups discouraged from disagreeing. The process of arguing and then coming to a joint conclusion creates positive attitudes toward science and school. Although there is considerably more interaction among all students in general, the most significant differences in interaction are between nonhandicapped and academically handicapped students.

Presumably to prepare all group members for measures of individual accountability, nonhandicapped students choose discussions with handicapped peers over nonhandicappped group mates. Although there is typically considerable rejection of handicapped students by their nonhandicapped peers Johnson et al.

Concept Mapping

Summary The overwhelmingly positive research findings for cooperative learning experiences are open to some speculation. In many cases, experimental groups were experiencing cooperative learning for the first time and for a limited number of weeks, raising questions about novelty and the long-term effects of cooperative learning.

Teachers have commented on the considerable initial preparation required to adapt traditional lessons into cooperative formats and the time required to teach and maintain the procedures and interpersonal skills required for productive group work Tyrrell, Successful performance on measures of achievement for students working cooperatively appears to be primarily related to the use of specific group rewards based upon each member's individual performance.

Although Student Team Learning methods using intergroup competition as the incentive for group rewards have demonstrated consistently positive effects on student achievement, so have other reward systems that are not competitive. What is required is that provisions are made for specific group rewards based on the cumulative performance of individual group members. Research has also shown that the magnitude of the group reward is not as important to students as the motivating effect of individual success for team success. The effects of cooperative learning on achievement, therefore, appear to be primarily motivational.

However, the motivation to successfully compete against other teams is not as important as the desire to achieve individual goals and thus ensure team success. Theoretical Basis for Cooperative Learning The nature of student-student interaction is at the heart of cooperative learning theory. How instructional goals are structured controls the type of student-student interaction that will occur. This in turn controls the instructional outcome. Positive Interdependence A student's performance in a cooperative group has consequences for other team members. Positive reward interdependence is fostered in cooperative learning techniques by creating a condition where one student's success helps others to be successful Slavin, Students in cooperative settings are viewed as capable of learning on their own and from one another.

It is assumed that children are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and can serve as strong motivators for moving peers toward task completion Slavin, Cooperative learning groups are designed to promote an environment of support nurtured by the element of positive interdependence. Two responsibilities are delegated to students. First, they must learn the material themselves, and second, they must help their teammates master it. Positive interdependence leads to a promotive interaction pattern among students where individuals encourage and support each other's efforts to achieve.

Determining individual levels of mastery is necessary and must be a frequent occurrence so that students can continue to provide support and assistance to each other when it is required. Student-Student Interaction The quality of the peer interaction and relationships that cooperation nurtures can have a widespread and powerful impact. Peers can serve as models or provide opportunities for reinforcing prosocial behavior.

Promotive interaction is characterized by personal and academic acceptance and support, high intrinsic achievement motivation, and high emotional involvement in learning Slavin, The verbal interchange that occurs as students work to fulfill their responsibilities nurtures the sharing and caring aspects of cooperative learning. Students deepen their understanding of material and gain a sense of accomplishment as they explain ideas to others or suggest solutions for problems. The format maximizes explaining and minimizes listening.

Metacognitive growth can be achieved as students verbalize and learn how they learn and listen to strategies that others have used Tyrrell, Exposure to multiple perspectives inherent in group work fosters analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Cooperative learning is based on the assumption of the social construction of knowledge and the idea that cognitive functions appear first on the social level and then on the individual level.

Retention of information is closely linked with the formation of concepts and schemata that can be formed and modified via communication with others in group discussions. Cognitive rehearsal strategies can increase retention and these readily take place in small groups. Heterogeneity The idea that cooperative learning can constructively deal with student heterogeneity in classrooms focuses on the quality of interactions among ethnic groups.

Cooperative relationships among heterogeneous groups tend to produce acceptance of differences and encourage exploration of different perspectives. Heterogeneous groups are considered the most powerful for problem solving situations due to the variety of perspectives resulting from a mix of backgrounds, skills and points of view. Teacher selection of group composition is required to ensure heterogeneity of gender, ethnicity, and achievement.

Membership on a cooperative learning team provides the initial impetus for students to work. As they begin to achieve academic success, they become more confident in their roles and begin to work harder. All students find their exertion important and realize that they can contribute to the team. Students do not need to depend entirely on the teacher and are encouraged to draw upon their own creativity and that of their peers Tyrrell, These cooperative skills are needed to maintain career, family, and community relationships basic to every individual, as well as provide problem solving and inquiry experiences that may be necessary in the work place.

Teaching students interpersonal and small group skills helps bring each member's learning to the maximum by maintaining good working relationships. At the end of one 3-week unit of study in science, and again at the end of a second 3- week unit, measures of low-level science content knowledge and measures of high-level transfer problem solving ability in science were administered to all students to evaluate the effects of the different classroom structures on these dependent variables.

Two measures of attitudes toward the instructional experience one for concept mapping and another for cooperative learning were administered at the end of the second three-week unit See Table A more detailed diagrammatic flow chart for each 3-week unit is presented in Appendix A. Setting and Research Participants The setting for this study was an overseas American middle school.

Participants in this study were seventh and eighth graders. A grade-level by gender distribution of this sample is shown in Table The 66 seventh graders and 66 eighth graders were divided into three sections per grade level with from 20 to 23 students per section. This assignment to academic sections was traditionally accomplished by teacher selection in an effort to maintain heterogeneity with respect to ability, gender, and ethnicity and was not by random selection.

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Research Design Classes of two teachers one seventh and one eighth grade teacher were used in this study. Each teacher had 15 or more years of previous science teaching experience and had been consistently judged above average on indicators of teaching ability. These teachers, who already were familiar with the basic elements of cooperative learning and concept mapping, were trained and instructed by the researcher prior to the study and monitored for fidelity throughout implementation.

The students in three sections of these seventh and eighth grade science teachers' classes participated in this study. CM is concept mapping and CL is cooperative learning level were all taught by the same teacher and assigned to treatments using a random number table. As a result of the treatment assignments, only two groups were contrasted on each of the attitudinal measures.

The measure dealing with attitudes toward cooperative learning was administered to the group working cooperatively without mapping and to the group working cooperatively with mapping. The measure dealing with attitudes toward concept mapping was administered to the group mapping independently and to the group mapping cooperatively See Table Students were encouraged to discuss issues critically and practice positive interpersonal skills See Appendix B.

Because these components are consistent with the Learning Together philosophy of David and Roger Johnson, most cooperative grouping procedures followed guidelines developed by Johnson et al. These procedures included establishment of positive interdependence and individual accountability, as well as provision for monitoring and group processing. The procedures for constructing heterogeneous groups and establishing base scores followed guidelines developed by Slavin One student facilitator was also designated for each cooperative learning group in accordance with guidelines developed by Cohen These facilitators were not intended to be strong leaders who might inhibit creative student-student interchange.

Their function was to help provide group efficiency and prevent status factors from limiting group access for any student. In this study, they were instructed by the teacher to encourage participation by all members, to keep the group on task, and to intervene if students with high academic or social standing were dominating group discussions or decisions. To assure each group's acceptance of this student facilitator, Cohen suggested that the teacher explain the specific duties of this person to all students and make it clear that the facilitator was carrying out a specifically assigned task.

The researcher, with support from another staff member familiar with the facilitator's role, trained these students using guidelines suggested by Cohen. Organization of all concept mapping procedures followed guidelines developed by Novak and Gowin and stressed the element of cross-links in construction. Science units were selected in an effort to introduce content that students had not likely encountered in their previous schooling experiences.

Introductory teacher lectures provided basic information intended to bring students to approximately the same entry level. This is in accordance with Ausubel's theory of providing a conceptual starting place for students to meaningfully link new information. Ausubel contended that this new information could then be transformed and applied to novel situations.

Instrumentation The overall hypothesis of this study focused on three broad outcome variables: a recall or low-level science content knowledge; b high-level transfer problem solving ability in science, and c attitudes toward the learning activity. These three constructs were operationally defined with a variety of standardized and researcher-developed instruments. Although the constructs for outcome variables were the same for both seventh and eighth grades, specific instruments for measuring these outcomes differed to match the science curricula taught at these grade levels.

Tables and identify the multiple instruments used to operationalize these constructs for seventh and eighth grades respectively. Commercial Measures of Science Content and Problem Solving Measures of science content were administered both before, as protests, and after each 3-week unit of study at each grade level. These tests were divided into sections designed to measure different levels of learning See Tables and Introductory test sections included multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank items aimed at evaluating recognition or recall of concepts and ideas.

Middle sections included items designated as measuring the understanding of relationships among facts and concepts. The last section entitled Using Concepts included items designed to measure a student's ability to apply concepts introduced in the chapter to new situations and was regarded by the publisher as the most challenging section of the test. Prior to test administration, each chapter test was examined by two members of the teacher support group to evaluate the publisher's claims regarding test sections and corresponding measurement of levels of learning recall vs. Although they generally agreed with the publisher's recommendations, questions were raised about the criteria used to determine item difficulty.

These items were identified and reclassified for the data analysis Table To enhance content validity, the two classroom teachers involved in the study investigated the spread of items included in the chapter tests with regard to content. To assure that the tests were an accurate representation of what was actually taught, they eliminated items measuring content not discussed and concluded that the number of remaining questions addressing each topic was in proportion to the amount of time spent discussing that topic See Table Application of Genetics commercial measure.

The Genetics pretest was composed of the 15 multiple choice items and the 14 fill-in- the-blank items from the chapter test that measured low-level learning skills such as recognition or recall of information. These items were exactly the same as those administered on the posttest. The section of the Genetics chapter test geared for recognizing higher levels of learning was not administered as part of the pretest.

Both the classroom and support teachers thought that testing the unfamiliar content presented in this advanced section Punnett Square applications before instruction began might frustrate students and introduce a negative attitude toward studying the subject matter. In addition, the support staff considered the science content pretest as a valid assessment of prior knowledge for the Punnett Square items. This advanced section was administered as part of the posttest and regarded as a valid measure of transfer problem solving by the support staff.

Application of Animal Behavior commercial measure. The pretest and the posttest for the unit on Animal Behavior were identical and consisted of the entire chapter test. In this case, the support teachers believed that seventh graders might be familiar with parts of the content presented in the various sections and that it was important to identify this prior knowledge.

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With the exception of six items designated as measuring higher levels of learning, this entire instrument consisted of items requiring low-level recall of science information for successful completion. Application of Atomic Structure commercial measure. The pretest and the posttest for the eighth grade unit on Atomic Structure were identical and each composed of 17 multiple choice items. These items were aimed at measuring recall or recognition of information. The section of this chapter test designed to measure higher learning levels was used as the measure of transfer problem solving for this unit and will be discussed in the next section.

Application of Solids, Liquids, and Gases commercial measure.

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The pretest for the unit on Solids, Liquids, and Gases included 10 items intended to measure relationships among facts and concepts. The eighth grade teacher and a member of the support staff thought that these items reflected the main concepts presented in this chapter and would give a quick indication of prior knowledge. Responses to these items were limited to "increases, decreases, or remains the same" and these items also composed part of the posttest.

The posttest also included 28 multiple choice items and a section analyzing changes in pressure that was regarded as a valid measure of meaningful learning and will be discussed in the next section. The fact that the formats of the four different protests administered in this study were not uniform is not considered a weakness of this study. Differences in chapter test formats between the 7th and 8th grade textbooks and differences in the nature of the subject matter and the extent of its coverage influenced pretest item selection. On all of these protests, students were encouraged to make a best guess if they understood what was being discussed and to leave items blank if they had no idea of the answer.

Measures of Transfer Problem Solving It is hypothesized that students who have meaningfully learned a topic can assimilate new, related information into their cognitive structures Ausubel, Novak and others have put a great amount of effort into constructing measures to evaluate an individual's ability to transfer newly acquired information presented in a novel event into existing cognitive structure.

Such measures of transfer problem solving should present a situation or event requiring the student to utilize content related to the unit of study but presented in a different context. These measures should require an understanding of the designated key unit concepts for successful performance and include a list of concept terms to provide limits and set parameters. Students can then attempt to explain the posed situation or event in writing by relating their understanding of the unit concepts to the event.

If the concepts have not been learned meaningfully, student explanations will not show a relationship between the unit concepts and the specified event. Although some worksheets and cognitive test items from the Merrill program were intended to measure application of new knowledge to novel situations, the support teachers who examined these materials did not always agree that items included in the section Using Concepts were adequate or challenging enough to be used as valid measures of this dependent variable. Therefore, additional measures were constructed by the researcher, with help from the support teachers and the eighth grade classroom teacher participating in this study, according to guidelines presented by Novak Higher level Genetics measures.

The Punnett Square questions mentioned earlier that were included in the commercially-produced Genetics chapter test were designated a valid measure of meaningful learning by the support teachers. These individuals agreed that successful completion of these items required that students had a basic understanding of the concepts presented in the text, could form judgments about these concepts, and could apply them to new situations. In addition, seventh graders completed a researcher- constructed measure presenting a scenario requiring them to describe the possible consequences of a nuclear power plant disaster.

Higher level Animal Behavior measures. With the exception of six items evaluating student knowledge of the hearing process in the human ear, the chapter test from the unit on Animal Behavior did not include items considered valid measures of transfer problem solving. An additional measure was constructed by the researcher in which students observed 14 isolated video segments of various animal behaviors and attempted to explain these behaviors using accurate and appropriate terminology.

These segments were chosen to illustrate examples of such behaviors as acquired or inborn behavior, territoriality, and use of pheromones. Higher level Solids, Liquids, and Gases measures. Three transfer problem solving measures were considered appropriate for the eighth grade unit on Solids, Liquids, and Gases. One of these was from the publisher-constructed chapter test and evaluated student knowledge of changes in pressure.

A second measure was the Winebottle Test first used by Novak and staff in their study of middle school concept mappers. The Winebottle Test was designated a valid measure of meaningful learning in this earlier study and is considered a classic model for construction of new transfer problem solving measures. For the Winebottle Test, students were presented with an event, a cork popping out of a warmed, empty wine bottle, and required to explain the event using related concepts such as expansion and kinetic energy that they had just studied.

For the third higher level measure in the Solids, Liquids, and Gases Unit, students were asked to observe and react to a demonstration illustrating changes in pressure within a system. A partially inflated balloon was placed inside of a bell jar attached to a vacuum pump. As air was drawn out of the bell jar, and the balloon expanded, students were asked to carefully observe what was happening and use appropriate terminology to describe their observations.

Higher level Atomic Structure measure. The transfer problem solving measure for the unit on Atomic Structure required students to draw isotopes of atoms they had not formally studied. This measure was a slight modification of that included with the chapter test. The transfer problem solving measures for the units on Animal Behavior and Atomic Structure were administered as protests before any instruction on these units was given. Identical protests were not given for the Genetics or Solids, Liquids, and Gases transfer problem solving measures.

The classroom and support teachers considered it acceptable to use the science content protests as protests for these more difficult transfer problem solving measures. This decision was based upon the assumption that successful performance on these transfer problem solving measures would depend directly upon knowledge and understanding of the basic concepts presented in the science content protests.

Content validity for researcher-constructed transfer problem solving measures. The researcher-constructed transfer problem solving measures for Genetics, Animal Behavior, and Solids, Liquids and Gases did not consist of a specific number of test items but were open ended and could satisfactorily be completed with a number of statements demonstrating conceptual relationships. To determine the content validity of these measures or how well and in what proportions they represented the appropriate universe of unit content, concept maps were constructed for each unit by the classroom teachers and used as a basis for content evaluation.

Social Research Methods - Knowledge Base - Concept Mapping

The transfer problem solving measures were discussed with reference to these staff-prepared maps of the topics, skills, and abilities considered representative of the content area being studied. The project staff agreed that correct responses to these transfer problem solving measures could be drawn from propositional statements distributed evenly throughout these maps See Figures , , , and Measures of Attitudes Toward the Instructional Experience Two separate 5-point Likert scales were used to evaluate student attitudes toward the learning strategies employed in this study.

One scale was constructed to assess student attitudes toward concept mapping 14 items and the other to assess student attitudes toward cooperative learning 16 items. Items were grouped into categories on the basis of how they affected a student's thinking, feeling, or acting about the particular strategy. The Thinking-Feeling-Acting Questionnaire for evaluating concept mapping in this study was adapted from a measure developed by Heinze-Fry and Novak for use with college biology students, which consisted of 25 statements generated from student comments to open-ended questions.

It was adapted by this researcher to accommodate middle school students and the unique characteristics of this study. A similar measure following the same format and theme as the concept mapping measure was researcher-constructed for cooperative learning. These measures are included as Appendices H and I. Teacher constructed concept map for the unit on Genetics. Teacher constructed concept map for the unit on Anial Behavior. Figure Teacher constructed concept map for the unit on Animal Behavior.

Teacher constructed concept map for the unit on Solids, Liquids, and Gases. Teacher constructed concept map for the unit on Atomic Structure. Students working in cooperative learning groups without mapping completed the cooperative learning measure only. Students working on concept maps independently completed the concept mapping measure only. Students constructing concept maps in cooperative learning groups completed both measures.

Three members of the teacher support group assessed the content validity of these two attitudinal measures. They agreed that the items categorized as indicators of thinking, feeling, or acting processes were appropriately placed and in proportion to the overall emphases of the study. It was their judgment that these measures would provide a fair indication of how seventh and eighth graders thought and felt about these two strategies.

Analyses were conducted to determine the reliability of the attitude measures used in this study. To determine the consistency of responses across items, the Cronbach's alpha reliability coefficient was estimated. The reliability coefficient for the entire cooperative learning attitudinal instrument was. When the "thinking" and "feeling" subsections were analyzed, the reliability for the cooperative "thinking" subsection was. The reliability coefficient for the entire concept mapping attitudinal instrument was.

When the subsections were analyzed, the reliability coefficient for the mapping "thinking" subsection was. Procedure Selection of sections. The science teachers at both grade levels each selected two science textbook units on topics that students were unlikely to have encountered in depth in prior science instruction. These units included supplementary materials for mastery and evaluation.

All students at each grade level, regardless of learning mode, were responsible for mastering the same unit content. The researcher randomly assigned a one section in which students constructed concept maps of the material independently, b a second section in which students covered the material in cooperative learning groups without concept mapping, and c a third section in which students constructed concept maps of the material in cooperative learning groups.

Learning to Learn instruction. All students initially received a uniform introduction to the Learning to Learn activities of Novak Pilot studies have shown that this 1- or 2-period introduction to the nature of concepts and meaningful learning can avoid confusion in subsequent concept mapping instruction Novak et al.

This introduction was presented to all students in all sections so that it could not be interpreted as a confounding variable. A brief example of how concepts can be organized hierarchically was also presented, but only to the two groups of students at each grade level who would be constructing concept maps either individually or cooperatively. This presentation included the idea that a variety of hierarchical possibilities can exist for a group of concepts depending upon an individual's understanding or interpretation of these concepts.

This example was the same for students constructing concept maps at both grade levels and unrelated to the science content introduced later. Group selection. Teachers selected groups of three members each for the sections working cooperatively. Students were first ranked from highest to lowest using base scores calculated by the appropriate teacher. These scores were determined from science performance prior to the time of this study. Group composition included one high, middle, and low performer as indicated by these base scores.

Students were not aware of the procedure used for selection of cooperative learning groups. The first cooperative group was formed by selecting the student at the top of the list, the student at the bottom of the list, and the student in the middle of the list. The second group was composed of the student second from the top, the student second from the bottom, and a middle student one up or one down from the first middle selection. Students were thus assigned to groups unless all members were of the same sex or group composition did not reflect the ethnic composition of the class.

In these cases, the teacher moved one place up or down the list to make the group selections and maintained heterogeneity with respect to gender, ethnicity, and achievement Johnson et al. Group composition was also slightly readjusted if two best friends or worst enemies were assigned to the same group or if an isolated student needed to be placed with supportive individuals.

Teachers found this grouping procedure was facilitated by using individual name cards that could be shuffled until group selection seemed satisfactory. Introduction to learning strategies. Students who constructed concept maps independently received an introduction to concept mapping theory and construction followed by a practice exercise using guidelines provided by Novak and Gowin Students who worked in cooperative learning groups to master the unit content without concept mapping were introduced to the organization and expectations of working cooperatively using examples and practice exercises suggested by Johnson and Johnson and Cohen Students who constructed concept maps in cooperative learning groups to master the unit content received introductory instruction and practice in both concept mapping and cooperative learning.

These introductory explanations and examples required two class periods and were the same for students at both grade levels and unrelated to the science content introduced later. Teacher instruction. Each teacher explained and clarified all specific procedures and expectations for each treatment group. Students working cooperatively were reminded that their major group task was to make sure all group members were prepared to be successful on measures of individual achievement. Forms of materials, reward, and goal interdependence were established. Teachers explained that groups would be monitored and data for feedback collected and that processing time would be provided to discuss how well collaborative skills were being used.

The collaborative skills stressed were listening carefully to one another, encouraging participation of all members, criticizing constructively, and not agreeing unless logically persuaded to do so when challenging worksheet answers or conceptual placements on a concept map. T-Charts Johnson et al. These charts provide a format for demonstrating behaviors that reflect correct usage of certain collaborative skills.

Students were informed that a facilitator had been selected by the teacher from each group. It was explained that these individuals were not leaders, as leadership responsibilities were shared among all group members, but chosen to help the teacher be assured that all students participate and derive the maximum benefit from group involvement. In addition, the maximum number of bonus points would not be awarded unless the teacher believed that the group had practiced their collaborative skills conscientiously.

Students working independently were also informed of their base scores and told that bonus points were available to them if they achieved their base scores or better on the individual achievement test. Teachers then gave introductory lessons on the unit content. Following this instruction, each teacher distributed a list of 15 to 20 key concepts with definitions that the teacher had discussed and identified as critical to understanding the unit. These terms were among those emphasized in the text and selected with both the hierarchical and cross- link elements of a concept map in mind.

All students were asked to study these key terms and carefully read related textual information. Hierarchical organization of terms. Students constructing concept maps independently used scissors to cut out the 15 to 20 concept names and accompanying definitions from the handout and organized them hierarchically with clusters where appropriate.

Students working in cooperative groups without concept mapping began to complete a single packet of worksheets that they would all be required to sign upon completion signifying their agreement and understanding of the content. Students constructing concept maps in cooperative learning groups first individually cut out and organized the 15 to 20 concept names hierarchically, then met with their group members before submitting a single, final, signed conceptual arrangement.

Completion of concept maps or content packet. Students working with concept maps selected an additional 10 or more conceptual terms from reading material, class discussions, or personal experiences, and recorded these additional concepts and their definitions onto paper. They then received sheets of rectangular stickers with the original 15 to 20 concept names in large print and as many blank rectangular stickers as were needed to record their additional 10 or more conceptual terms. Students constructing concept maps then cut out all the conceptual terms and proceeded to organize them on large sheets of white paper.

Students working on concept maps independently integrated the additional 10 conceptual terms into their existing hierarchies, reorganizing and clustering where appropriate. Students were not yet allowed to permanently affix the conceptual terms onto the paper. The teachers monitored individual work by clarifying concepts, raising questions, and encouraging summarization, elaboration, and evaluation of important concepts and propositions. Students in this condition were not allowed to discuss conceptual arrangements with peers any more than in a traditional setting. Students completed their concept map organization, affixed the rectangular pieces onto the large piece of paper, and formed propositions by drawing and labelling connecting lines.

Students were encouraged to find "cross-links" connecting related concepts from different hierarchical portions of the map. Students working in cooperative learning groups without mapping continued to work on their packets. The teachers monitored these groups by clarifying concepts, raising questions, and encouraging summarization, elaboration, and evaluation of important ideas. Appropriate criticism of another's responses and subsequent negotiation were encouraged. The packet of materials was completed with group consensus.

Students working on concept maps in cooperative learning groups reached agreement on which additional conceptual terms merited inclusion in their concept map and at what level. The teachers monitored these groups by clarifying concepts, raising questions, and encouraging summarization, elaboration, and evaluation of important concepts and propositions. Each cooperative group worked together to complete its concept map organization, affixed the rectangular pieces onto the large piece of paper, and drew and labelled propositional lines. Appropriate criticism of conceptual placements, another's responses, and subsequent negotiation were encouraged.

The concept maps were completed with group consensus. Data Collection and Scoring Procedures for test administration were uniform for all classes at both grade levels. Data for the measures of science achievement and transfer problem solving ability were collected at the end of each 3-week unit of study in science. Data from the attitudinal measures were collected once at the completion of the last 3-week unit. All measures of science content were paper and pencil tests that could be completed in one class period. Measures of transfer problem solving focused upon a particular event that could be represented by a lab demonstration, segment of videotape, or a written explanation.

Credit was accumulated for the transfer problem solving measures on the basis of the quality and quantity of recorded propositional statements. Some of these measures required a well-defined set of appropriate responses, and points were awarded on the basis of how many of these elements were present. Others were more conducive to a wide range of responses and points were accumulated on the basis of the number of valid conceptual relationships listed. When the Winebottle Test was administered in the study Novak and staff , points were accumulated on the basis of the number of valid conceptual relationships listed.

For example, a statement reflecting the fact that the air in a warmed, closed container expands would receive one point. A relationship such as this was considered analogous to a propositional component of a concept map. In this study, a holistic approach to grading the Winebottle question was adopted. Project staff decided that an acceptable answer to this question should include certain components and recommended awarding a maximum of five points for student responses including this information. Slightly less elaboration merited a score of four or three points respectively, two points were awarded if the basic idea that particles expand and the cork pops off the bottle was included, and one point if only one or two simple facts were listed.

The grading procedures used for the transfer problem solving measures on Genetics and Animal Behavior were also based upon the quantity and quality of the propositional relationships listed. However, these measures allowed for acceptance of a large number of key concepts, and therefore a larger number of conceptual relationships, than the Winebottle Test or balloon demonstration.

For this reason, members of the support staff suggested an open-ended system of tallying relationships for these measures rather than using a holistic approach. However, as staff members began evaluating these measures, they discovered that each measure presented its own unique set of problems that needed to be addressed. One problem presented by the Genetics measure was the difficulty distinguishing between a short, less detailed propositional statement and a more complete response carefully elaborating one particular point.

A distinction also needed to be made between valid responses using science. Then the heat caused the kinetic energy to ex pand. The gas forced the cork out of the bottle. A student-constructed response to the Winebottle problem. I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Pat Ashton Professor of Foundations of Education I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Bpiduc Professor of Instruction and Curriculum for females compare to that for males? Are there gender effects for meaningful learning?