1 University of Extremadura, Department of Didactics of Experimental Sciences (SPAIN)
2 University of Extremadura, Department of Physics (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 769-777
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1183
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
In previous works, our research group has shown the didactic effectiveness of concept maps to achieve a meaningful learning in our students. In line with this approach, concept maps allow the building of "Knowledge Models," which provide a logical cognitive structure to interconnect the conceptual contents of a certain subject. For the construction of these knowledge models, different concept maps (and their associated resources), which organize and clarify concepts, are interrelated to structure the information the teacher provides on a specific topic. In a literature review we can verify that it is widely accepted that concept maps are a powerful tool to help students "learn how to learn" conceptual content. However, in science subjects with a more practical approach such as physics, experimental work is a key part of the discipline, so it is also necessary to develop specific learning materials to these procedural contents. In this experience we extrapolated to the procedural topics the use of concept maps. Specifically, the development of a teaching resource to use in a Virtual Laboratory of Optics is presented. The software used for the development of a "Procedural Model" has been CmapTools, with the aim of designing a structured laboratory practices teaching guide.

The study involved the introduction of Concept Mapping in practical work within a virtual laboratory, in order to help students to relate significantly the theoretical content with the practical knowledge, to increase the connection between theory and practice, and to improve the performance achieved. The use of this teaching methodology in virtual laboratories may present an improvement in student learning, as cognitive didactic tools are included in the lab practices. Specifically, it has been found that the procedural models developed have helped the students to organize the content, objectives and theoretical foundations of the practices. Additionally, the procedural models have allowed our students to reach a lasting understanding of the theoretical contents worked in the laboratory, as they include links to photographs, instructional videos and animations, thus being an electronic teaching guide structured by this model. The results obtained with the evaluation instruments used (questionnaires and interviews analysis), suggest that procedural models are a tool to "learn how to proceed" in the practical activities in the laboratory, and they have allowed students to make connections between the more relevant concepts and procedures in the virtual laboratory.
Concept Maps, Procedural Model, Virtual Lab, Physics, Meaningful Learning.