CONCEPTUAL MAPS AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT TRAINING IN THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA
After joining the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Spanish universities have been renewing teaching methods in a process of change that involves implementing student-centred teaching methodologies. Without renouncing traditional lecture-based methods, the learning process requires students to be active in their own education and thus participate in knowledge-building. Teachers are required do to more than transmit knowledge; they must plan strategies and activities that encourage students to obtain knowledge and acquire capabilities and skills that will enable them to respond to the demands of their future professional activity.
One of the new teaching methodologies intended to stimulate significant learning in students is the use of conceptual maps, designed as a learning strategy aimed at representing significant relations between concepts in the form of propositions. Through cooperation with peers and the teacher, students become the protagonists in their own learning and thus, in their own educational process. The literature coincides in establishing that the use of conceptual maps in the process of teaching and learning enables rapid identification of the key concepts of a topic and the relationships between them, favours memory and organised, hierarchised learning, it facilitates visualisation of learning contents and enables students to explore their previous knowledge on a new subject while also integrating new information. In short, the use of this innovative classroom methodology can contribute to higher education quality.
This work aims to analyse the consequences of conceptual map use in new degree courses implemented as a result of EHEA. In particular, the study evaluates whether the application of conceptual maps to teach and learn about a subject: 1) Intensifies understanding of the subject, 2) Reduces class preparation time 3) Encourages students to use tutorials, 4) Broadens students' social circles and 5) Enhances motivation for the subject. In pursuit of this objective, a sample of 75 Universitat Politècnica de València students on the Business and Industrial Economy course in the first year of the Engineering and Industrial Organisation and Chemical Engineering degrees has been used with a quantitative empirical study using regression models which has enabled us to corroborate the proposed hypotheses.