Publications & Resources

Concept Map-Based Assessment in Science: Two Exploratory Studies

Aug 1997

Maria Araceli Ruiz-Primo, Susan Elise Schultz, and Richard J. Shavelson

The search for new “authentic” science assessments of what students know and can do is well underway. As part of this search, educators and researchers are looking for more or less direct measures of students’ knowledge structures. Concept maps, structural representations of key concepts in a subject domain, constructed by individuals, have been dubbed a potential “find.” The rationale behind this claim is that knowledge has an organizational property that can be captured with structural representations (e.g., Goldsmith, Johnson, & Acton, 1991; Jonassen, Beissner, & Yacci, 1993; White & Gunstone, 1992). Cognitive psychologists posit that “the essence of knowledge is structure” (Anderson, 1984, p. 5). Concept interrelatedness, then, is an essential property of knowledge. Indeed, one aspect of competence in a domain is that expert knowledge is well structured, and as expertise in a domain grows, through learning, training, and/or experience, the elements of knowledge become increasingly interconnected (e.g., Glaser & Bassok, 1989; Shavelson, 1972).

Ruiz-Primo, M. A., Schultz, S. E., & Shavelson, R. J. (1997). Concept map-based assessment in science: Two exploratory studies (CSE Report 436). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).