Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of a Question Prompt-Based Concept Mapping Approach on Students' Learning Achievements, Attitudes and 5C Competences in Project-Based Computer Course Activities

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of a Question Prompt-Based Concept Mapping Approach on Students' Learning Achievements, Attitudes and 5C Competences in Project-Based Computer Course Activities

Article excerpt

Introduction

Previous research has indicated that, while most students have information-searching ability on the Internet, they tend to lack effective strategies for finding useful information from the searched data (MacGregor & Lou, 2004). This may cause disruption to students' learning, especially when they are facing resource-rich and complex learning situations (Yin et al., 2013). Therefore, it is necessary to provide scaffolding or effective tools to support students in summarizing or organizing the information they access on the Internet (Hwang, Kuo, Chen, & Ho, 2014).

The construction of knowledge depends on the mental tools used (Jonassen & Carr, 2000). Concept mapping is regarded as an effective tool that helps students organize important issues, facilitating their construction of knowledge (Hwang, Kuo, Chen, & Ho, 2014; Liu, 2011). However, it is somewhat difficult for students to construct concept maps directly from the huge network of data available to them. Researchers have suggested that students should be given scaffolding such as hints or clues when developing their own concept maps, through which knowledge can be effectively constructed (Gibbs & Habeshaw, 1993). In addition, integrating collaboration and concept mapping could help students in their knowledge sharing and exchange, while also developing their communication skills and strengthening their learning motivation (Guveng, & Un Agikgoz, 2007; Hwang, Shi, & Chu, 2011; Kwon & Cifuentes, 2009; Roth & Roychoudhury, 1992; Wood & O'Malley, 1996). That is, having interactive groups is the key component to applying the concept mapping approach (Cheng, Wang, & Mercer, 2014).

With regard to meaningful learning in the process of concept mapping, Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989) pointed out that it is not only important but in fact necessary to engage students in dealing with learning tasks with real-world problems for knowledge construction. The best practice for students to understand an important issue is to conduct a project-based learning activity in which they are able to develop products or solve problems based on a specific project that represents their knowledge (Hwang, Hung, Chen, & Liu, 2014). Previous research has proved that project-based learning can cultivate students' diverse competences and enhance their learning achievement, such as their problem-solving abilities, independent thinking, critical thinking and communication ability, as well as their learning motivation (Bell, 2010; Chang & Lee, 2010; Hung, Hwang, & Huang, 2012; Koh, Herring, & Hew, 2010; Ravitz, Hixson, English, & Mergendoller, 2012). Thus, the project-based learning approach can be regarded as an innovative approach for one of the key abilities in the 21st century (Bell, 2010). In addition, Trilling and Fadel (2009) further indicated that learners in the 21st century should have diverse abilities for addressing complex problems, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication and team work.

Project-based learning (PBL) is one of the most important teaching strategies; encouraging educators to use this approach in the current education field at this stage of education reform could help foster students' diverse abilities and active attitudes. Several studies have demonstrated the potential of combining PBL with concept mapping (Kassab & Hussain, 2010; Mok, Whitehill, & Dodd, 2014). Canas and Novak (2009, p. 1) pointed out that "a good way to delineate the context for a concept map is to define a Focus Question," which is a question that "clearly specifies the problem or issue the concept map should help to resolve." Following this notation, in this study, an integrated 5W1H (i.e., who, what, when, where, why and how) question prompt-based concept mapping approach is proposed to guide students to investigate specified issues via developing a website. Collaboratively constructing concept maps via the Internet can represent the domain knowledge of a project, in which students use "who" to stand for the important persons or organizations related to the issue, "what" to stand for the big events, "when" and "where" to represent the time and location of the events, "why" to explain the reasons for the phenomenon, and "how" to propose possible solutions to the problem. …

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