Academic journal article Education

Constructing Concept Maps to Encourage Meaningful Learning in Science Classroom

Academic journal article Education

Constructing Concept Maps to Encourage Meaningful Learning in Science Classroom

Article excerpt


Concept mapping was developed by Joseph Novak in 1970 as a tool for identifying what learners already know about a given subject area. Concept mapping allows students to understand the relationships between concepts of science by creating a visual map of the connections (Vanides et al, 2005).

Concept maps can be used as tools for planning curricula and the associated instruction, representing the structure of science content, investigating and describing student knowledge structures, and noting changes in those structures. It provides an evaluation technique that provides evidence about what students know and understand as well as the important teaching and learning tools (Novak, 1991; Hilbert & Renkl, 2008). The purposes of using concepts maps in science classrooms are to:

1. generate ideas (brainstorming)

2. design a complex structure (long texts, hypermedia, large web sites, etc.)

3. communicate complex ideas

4. aid learning by explicitly integrating new and old knowledge

5. assess student understanding

To promote student meaningful learning that occurs when new experiences are related to what students already know, concepts maps may help students in relating new concepts and scientific terms to previous knowledge. Steward et. all define a rationale for the use of concepts maps as learning tools in the following way:

"The concept map is a device for representing the conceptual structure of a discipline in two dimensions. The linear one-dimensional outline is a traditional way of representing information about a subject. Because of its added relational dimension, however, the concept map is much more suitable for representing the propositional relationships among concepts. The construction and use of concepts maps implies that in a discipline we find conceptual systems with recognizable patterns of organization. This element of organization is difficult to express in a typical outline program (pp. 171-172)"

Often students learn science concepts but do not know how they are related to each other. Teachers can use concept maps to determine what students already know about a topic. The advantages of using concepts maps are to :

1. inform teachers about what the student already knows and understands.

2. lead to meaningful learning.

3. develop students organizational skills.

4. improve student creative thinking.

5. visualize the relationships between science concepts in a systematic way.

To make a concept map students start by developing a list of concepts words. They then must categorize the words from general to specific. The most general concepts are placed at the beginning of the paper and less general concepts are placed in a lower position. If concepts are of equal importance, they are placed next to each other on the same level. Eventually, one builds a hierarchy of concepts with the most general at the top and the most specific at the bottom of the page. At this point, concepts are connected to indicate their propositional relationships. Lines and arrows are drawn to indicate these relationships. Finally, words to express the type of relationship are added to the connecting links (Appendix 1).


At the end of this activity, students should be able to

* understand how to make concept map

* understand how to use concept map

* organize facts, thoughts, ideas etc. using a concept map

* understand plants characteristics include plant parts, and what plants need to grow

* determine what plants need to survive

Pre Activity

Before beginning of the activity, students should have a basic knowledge about concept maps. When students are not familiar concept map or do not know how to make a concept map, it is best to begin by giving them key topics or ideas they know about (e. …

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