Publications & Resources

Knowledge Mapping in the Classroom: A Tool for Examining the Development of Students’ Conceptual Understandings

Aug 1999

Ellen Osmundson, Gregory K. W. K. Chung, Howard E. Herl, and Davina C. D. Klein

The objective of this study was to investigate how computer-based knowledge mapping could be used simultaneously as an instructional tool and an assessment tool in a classroom setting. Data are presented that demonstrate how knowledge mapping served as a tool to support, facilitate, promote, and evaluate students’ development of understandings in science. In this study, knowledge mapping was (a) integrated into instruction, (b) employed as a repeated measure to capture the ongoing development of ideas, (c) used individually as well as collaboratively, (d) scored according to algorithms that emphasized the recursive and incremental nature of both learning and the development of scientific ideas, and (e) accessed online through the computer. A non-equivalent control group design was utilized. Fifty-two fourth- and fifth-grade students from two intact classrooms participated in this study. Both groups generated pretest and posttest knowledge maps of their understandings of the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems. Students in the experimental group created three additional (collaborative) maps during the course of instruction. Students in the control condition worked in small groups on three occasions to research the human body by using the Internet and related instructional materials. Results suggest that for students in the experimental group, repeated use of the mapping software supported and facilitated the development of scientific and principled understandings. Further, collaborative work with the mapper also afforded students the opportunity to establish connections between the systems in the human body to more fully develop their understandings of the domain–both integral components of learning and the development of scientific understandings.

Osmundson, E., Chung, G. K. W. K., Herl, H. E., & Klein, D. C. D. (1999). Knowledge mapping in the classroom: A tool for examining the development of students’ conceptual understandings (CSE Report 507). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).