CONCEPT MAPS AS LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT TOOLS IN HIGHER/ENGINEERING EDUCATION
Polytechnic University of Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Concept maps may become very useful tools to motivate and promote students to learn. They are also very useful to involve students in learning-teaching processes by using and promoting various self-learning methodologies.
In this paper, we explain how this strategy has been applied in “Hydraulic Engineering Impact Assessment” (This subject is given in the last year of Civil Engineering studies and it has an annual average of 20 students). We also explain the pros and cons we have found during its application.
This strategy is applied in the classroom in two different steps. First, a concept map of the students’ previous knowledge in the matter is done before giving the corresponding lesson. Then, when the session is nearly to finish, this tool is used in two different ways:
-Students have to complete their own concept maps of the lesson. In this way, students learn by themselves and they are appropriately assessed.
-The students make a concept map by working in small groups and they latter explain it to the rest of the class. Then, they put all their maps forward in order to converge in a broadly accepted one.
Designing a new technique needs time and efforts for both teachers and students. In fact, if any student has never worked with concept maps we must use some time to give a brief explanation and even to make the concept map of the whole subject all together (some times, we must also persist in and repeat this collective work to make the concept map of the program). Fortunately, this disadvantage will disappear in a few years, since students of primary and secondary school are already using this didactic tool.
One of the basic premises of this docent tool is that there is no only one valid concept map but many others may be valid. Therefore, the assessment becomes one of its fundamental disadvantages due to both complexity and the longer time requirements.
Another important disadvantage is: if we use this tool for a few consecutive years, it is possible that some students prefer not to make their own concept maps but to profit the work made by their mates in previous years. We can minimize this disadvantage by using some personalized tutorship techniques and by monitoring students in and out of the classroom.
In my opinion, it has been a very brilliant methodological experience in many aspects. Students have worked in small groups to create their own concept maps for each given lesson and they have related different concepts by means of using prepositions to create meaning phrases. It makes students’ learning easier and it helps them to clarify ideas and relate concepts.
Considering that students learn concepts and their relations depending on things they have previously learned, this methodology has been very useful to detect predetermined mistakes in students’ ideas. In addition, concept maps motivate most of the students and actively involve them in reading and thinking processes. These maps help students’ comprehension processes to improve.
In the end, we have verified that the teacher-student relationship has changed from manager/director to facilitator of knowledge acquirement. Students’ academic results evidence that this goal has been attached, especially if we consider that, there were 20 registered students and only one of them suspended (three students did not appear). It means an important improvement when comparing with previous years’ results, when these tools were not still applied in this subject.
Keywords: concept or semantic maps, meaningful learning, teamwork, evaluation technique.