UBC Theses and Dissertations
Are they really learning? : investigating grade seven science students’ understanding over the course of a unit through concept mapping activities Murray-Hoenig, Kathryn Louise
Concept mapping is an activity where students present the knowledge that they have and how it is interconnected and related in a graphic format. This study attempts to determine what type of knowledge can be gained from examining grade seven Science students' concept maps generated over two units of instruction, one taught in an STS manner and the other in a transmissive manner. The maps were examined on multiple points: number of list words used, number of additional words used, number of maps generated, size of maps created, number of words in the links between key words, and type of information in the links between key words. Additionally, maps were examined for any correlations between the type of map created and the academic achievement of the student, as well as for any correlations between gender, manner of unit instruction, and type of map generated. There are gender differences in map construction; boys tend to stick to using textbook definitions and the girls have more creative maps with personal comments and opinions on the topics. In terms of assessment, students who did not do well on the unit test created poor concept maps with few links and little scientific content. However, students who did well on the test did not always create concept maps that reflected their understanding of the subject. Students did generate different types of maps in the two different units. The Astronomy unit maps were often creative and imaginative in their answers, but not always scientific. The Chemistry unit maps reflected that the students had pockets of scientific information but they weren't always able to link those pockets together. It was not possible to determine if these differences were due to the innate differences in the content of each unit or whether this was reflective of differences in teaching style. Concept maps are an excellent tool to see what the students are interested in and to enable students to track their own academic growth.
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