Publications & Resources

The Validity of Knowledge Mapping as a Measure of Elementary Students’ Scientific Understanding

Apr 2002

Davina C. D. Klein, Gregory K. W. K. Chung, Ellen Osmundson, Howard E. Herl, and Harold F. O'Neil Jr.

Although first popular as an instructional tool in the classroom, knowledge mapping has been used increasingly as an assessment tool. Knowledge mapping is expected to measure deep conceptual understanding and allow students to characterize relationships among concepts in a domain visually. Our research examines the validity of knowledge mapping as an assessment tool in science. Our approach to investigating this validity is three-pronged. First, we outline a model for the creation of knowledge mapping tasks, proposing a standard set of steps and using content area and educational experts to ensure the content validity of the measures. Next, we describe a scoring method used to evaluate student performance, including a discussion of the method’s reliability and its relationship to other possible scoring systems. Finally, we present our statistical results including comparative analyses, our multitrait-multimethod validity analyses involving two traits (students’ understanding of hearing and of vision) and three different measurement methods (knowledge mapping, essay, and multiple-choice tasks), critical proposition analyses, and analyses of students’ propositional elaborations. Results show knowledge maps to be sensitive to students’ competency level, with mixed MTMM results. We conclude with a discussion of implications and directions for future work.

Klein, D. C. D., Chung, G. K. W. K., Osmundson, E., Herl, H. E., & O’Neil, H. F. Jr. (2002). The validity of knowledge mapping as a measure of elementary students’ scientific understanding (CSE Report 557). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).