Science 8 Today I returned the students’ concept maps they did for cells. Prior to doing this cmap the students completed a form which described each organelle. The purpose of the cmap was not to test memorization of the organelles but to see what kinds of connections kids could make between them. It’s one thing to copy down a bunch of words and quite another thing to actively link different ideas and key words.
To scaffold concept mapping, I first do a gallery walk of about a dozen large concept maps completed by senior students and undergrads. We then discuss the features that seem to make up a good cmap. Students really like the idea of a cmap needing to be clear and easy to read. We also talk about the purpose of a concept map, and how it is primarily a tool that a student can use for learning. In this sense, a crowded cmap may be better than a neat and orderly one.
The worksheet I used is here: Cell Concept Map
The worksheet gives another set of examples, which I use to stress the importance of links. Links are not just randomly drawn lines between key words, but are expressions of understanding. In order to demonstrate and clarify understanding, words and descriptions have to be written along the links.
This student produced a wonderful infographic that did an excellent job of communicating her understanding. I love getting stuff like this, it shows just how capable students are. I spoke with this student about trying concept map next time, but I couldn’t fault her on her work.
In terms of assessment, I didn’t really give a grade for the cmaps. I did give feedback on four aspects: topics (subsuming old ideas with new), organelles, links, and link descriptions. Most research I’ve read recommends to not grade cmaps, and I agree. However, I did take the organelle aspect from the cmaps and use it to rate their organelle learning objective (SBG grading of cell unit)