Collaborative Concept Mapping: Provoking and Supporting Meaningful Discourse

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [The University of British Columbia]On: 28 October 2014, At: 10:05Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office:Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Theory Into PracticePublication details, including instructions for authors and subscriptioninformation:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/htip20</p><p>Collaborative Concept Mapping: Provoking andSupporting Meaningful DiscourseCarla van Boxtel , Jos van der Linden , Erik Roelofs &amp; Gijsbert ErkensPublished online: 24 Jun 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Carla van Boxtel , Jos van der Linden , Erik Roelofs &amp; Gijsbert Erkens (2002) CollaborativeConcept Mapping: Provoking and Supporting Meaningful Discourse, Theory Into Practice, 41:1, 40-46, DOI:10.1207/s15430421tip4101_7</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip4101_7</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content)contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and ourlicensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, orsuitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication arethe opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis.The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoevercaused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantialor systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use canbe found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/htip20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1207/s15430421tip4101_7http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip4101_7http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>40</p><p>THEORY INTO PRACTICE / Winter 2002Promoting Thinking Through Peer Learning</p><p>A N IMPORTANT AIM OF INSTRUCTION in schools is that students learn the concepts that areused within specific domains, and that they im-prove their ability to use these concepts in theirmutually agreed-upon scientific meanings. Sev-eral authors suggest that students learn domain-specific concepts by using them in spokencommunicationthrough talking about and withconcepts (Duit &amp; Treagust 1998; Lemke, 1990;Palincsar, Anderson, &amp; David, 1993). From thispoint of view, then, collaborative learning taskshave a strong potential to contribute to the learn-ing of concepts, because they can provide studentswith the opportunity to talk about and use them todescribe and explain phenomena. In addition to thecomposition of the group, the group size, the re-ward structure, and the preparation for group work,the task itself has an important role in shaping thequality of the student interaction (Derry, 1999; Vander Linden, Erkens, Schmidt, &amp; Renshaw, 2000;Webb &amp; Palincsar, 1996).</p><p>In this article we discuss the potential of col-laborative concept-mapping tasks. In our research,we used a concept-mapping task in three experimen-tal studies. Participants in the studies were 15- to16-year-old students from secondary-level physics</p><p>classes. The students collaborated in pairs on aconcept-mapping task that functioned as the intro-duction to a new course about electricity. In eachstudy, we manipulated the task design and com-pared the student interaction that emerged in thedifferent task conditions. In all studies, we video-taped and transcribed the student interactions andanalyzed the transcripts.</p><p>Several studies (Horton, McConny, Gallo,Woods, &amp; Hamelin, 1993) have shown that conceptmapping results in meaningful learning. Making aconcept map helps learners become aware of andreflect on their own (mis)understandings; it helpsstudents take charge of their own meaning-mak-ing. Further, it contributes to the development ofan integrated conceptual framework. Most of theconcept-mapping studies focus on the constructionof a concept map by individual students or a teach-er. In line with the findings of Roth and Roy-choudhury (1993, 1994) and Sizmur and Osborne(1997), we concluded that concept mapping, as acollaborative learning activity, is successful in pro-voking and supporting a student discourse that con-tributes to the appropriation of physics concepts.Students in the three studies in which we used con-cept mapping as a group task showed significantlearning gains (van Boxtel, 2000). It appeared thatthe learning outcomes were related to the qualityof the student interaction. The more talk aboutphysics concepts and the more elaborative that talk,the higher the learning outcomes.</p><p>Carla van BoxtelJos van der LindenErik RoelofsGijsbert Erkens</p><p>Collaborative Concept Mapping:Provoking and SupportingMeaningful Discourse</p><p>THEORY INTO PRACTICE, Volume 41, Number 1, Winter 2002Copyright 2002 College of Education, The Ohio State University</p><p>Carla van Boxtel is assistant professor, Jos van derLinden is associate professor, Erik Roelofs is assistantprofessor, and Gijsbert Erkens is associate professorin the Department of Educational Sciences at UtrechtUniversity, The Netherlands.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f B</p><p>ritis</p><p>h C</p><p>olum</p><p>bia]</p><p> at 1</p><p>0:05</p><p> 28 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p> 41</p><p>Collaborative Concept MappingBoxtel, Linden, Roelofs, and Erkens</p><p>In the following sections, we present our expe-riences with the concept-mapping tasks used in ourresearch. We identify the features of the concept-mapping task that helped make it successful in pro-voking and supporting a productive student discourse.</p><p>Collaborative Concept MappingThe concept-mapping task</p><p>Concept maps are diagrams indicating inter-relationships among concepts and representing con-ceptual frameworks within a specific domain ofknowledge (Novak, 1990). A concept map repre-sents the main concepts and relationships within adomain. It is a network in which the nodes repre-sent concepts, the lines linking the nodes representrelationships, and the labels on the lines representthe nature of the relationships. Within the domainof physics, the relationships between conceptsmostly reflect physical regularities. For example,within the domain of electricity, the concepts ofvoltage, current strength, and resistance can be re-lated to each other. It is possible to describe therelationships among these concepts as follows: Ifthe voltage increases, then the current strength in-creases, provided that the resistance does notchange. This is a qualitative description of Ohmslaw (I = V/R) that accounts for the observation thatcurrent strength is proportional to the amount ofvoltage.</p><p>In our studies, pairs of students were asked toconstruct a concept map on a large sheet of paper,and use a given set of electricity concepts, such ascurrent strength, voltage, energy, and resistance.We expected students to connect related conceptsand label the links that represent the relationshipsbetween concepts precisely. We chose to work withstudents from the higher grades because a fruitfuldiscussion about the meaning and use of conceptsrequires that the participants are at least familiarwith the terms and have some initial understand-ing of the concepts and their interrelationships. Ittook students an average of 20 minutes to con-struct a concept map like the one shown in Figure 1.</p><p>In the following sections we give a descriptionof the student discourse that was provoked by theconcept-mapping task (see van Boxtel, van der Lin-den, &amp; Kanselaar, 2000 for more details of the study).We will relate the features of the student discourse tothe features of the concept-mapping task.</p><p>Students articulate their thoughtsAs expected, collaborative concept mapping</p><p>engaged students in discourse about the physicsconcepts. The students articulated their thoughtsabout, and experiences with, the concepts. Therewas almost no off-task talk. The requested groupproduct and the given electricity concepts forcedstudents to pay attention to key principles in the</p><p>provides </p><p>more resistance, less current</p><p>when they circulate, this is</p><p>provides</p><p>more voltage,more current</p><p>determine</p><p>Voltage Energy</p><p>Electrons Current Strength Resistance</p><p>Voltage</p><p>Sort of Material Length Cross Section of the Wire</p><p>Figure 1. Example of a concept map about electricity.</p><p>Voltage Resource provides</p><p>less current</p><p>determine</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f B</p><p>ritis</p><p>h C</p><p>olum</p><p>bia]</p><p> at 1</p><p>0:05</p><p> 28 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>42</p><p>THEORY INTO PRACTICE / Winter 2002Promoting Thinking Through Peer Learning</p><p>domain, thus stimulating abstract talk. The averageintensity of talk about the electricity concepts wasmeasured as the number of propositions per minute.We defined a proposition as an utterance in whichthe student makes a statement about the meaning ofor a relationship between one or more electricity con-cepts. The students formulated approximately threepropositions per minute. In almost all pairs, the stu-dents participated equally in the discourse.</p><p>Most conversation about the electricity con-cepts concerned relationships among concepts. Usu-ally, the formulation of relationships became moreprecise and specific during the accomplishment ofthe task. Resistance and current strength are re-lated is an example of a proposition with lowspecification. If resistance is small, the currentstrength is large is an example of a propositionwith high specification.</p><p>As a result of explaining their own concep-tions, students gain a greater conceptual clarity forthemselves (Damon &amp; Phelps, 1989). However,Roth and Roychoudhury (1993) reported that somenegative outcomes could occur. For example, as aresult of working together, students scientificallyincorrect notions sometimes become ingrained orgo unchallenged. When a concept-mapping task isused as the introduction to a curriculum unit, how-ever, this could be considered less of a problemand, perhaps, even meaningful. The subsequent stu-dent activities and instruction can be focused onan explicit comparison of new information withthe conceptions that are expressed in the conceptmaps. Becoming aware of ones own conceptions,knowledge gaps, and inconsistent reasoning can beconsidered important conditions for conceptualchange, because it may result in a cognitive con-flict (Joshua &amp; Dupin, 1987; Pintrich, Marx, &amp;Boyle, 1993).</p><p>Articulation of ideas also enables students toquestion or criticize them. A partner can point toinconsistent or incorrect reasoning and elaborateideas, and both students can co-construct mean-ings. In the next sections, we discuss the potentialof the concept-mapping task to provoke elabora-tion and co-construction.</p><p>Elaboration of conceptual knowledgeLearning concepts requires deep processing ac-</p><p>tivities, such as the active use of prior knowledge,</p><p>the recognition and acknowledgment of problems,and attempts to look for meaningful relationships.Because a concept-mapping task is an open taskwith no predetermined or fixed answers, collabo-rative concept mapping elicits negotiation. Negoti-ation processes can be characterized by asking andanswering questions, resolving disagreements, andco-constructing meanings. Questions asked duringthe concept-mapping task (i.e., What is voltage?Why is a voltage resource needed in an electriccircuit? But what actually is a molecule?) in-cluded the acquisition of the theoretical frameworkof electricity concepts as used by scientists. Thefact that the questions were posed by the studentsthemselves seemed to make them eager to searchfor an answer. In attempting to answer the ques-tions, students can create new relationships by giv-ing examples, using analogies, reformulating, orby referring to school or everyday experiences (seealso Webb, 1989, 1991).</p><p>The concept-mapping task also provoked con-flicts, because in talking about relationships be-tween certain physical quantities, students oftenhad to choose between two opposite alternatives.For example, current strength is either directly orinversely proportional to resistance; voltage is re-lated to electrons, or it is not. A concept map re-quires an explicit answer. This might explain why,in our studies, students elaborated almost all con-flicts that arose. One student explained or justifiedhis or her statement, or both students contributedto the resolution of the conflict through argumen-tation about the solution.</p><p>Co-construction of meaningsWhen peers work on a common task, mutual</p><p>understanding must be created and sustained con-tinuously (Roschelle, 1992). To coordinate activi-ties and achieve a joint concept map, thecollaborating students needed to create a sharedmeaning of the task, the concepts, the procedures,and the strategies to use. The transcripts of thestudent discourse showed many episodes in whichboth students contributed to answering a question,resolving a conflict, or constructing a reason.</p><p>The following example illustrates the processof co-constructing a reason. After Haiko states thatan electric circuit has a voltage source, he (finish-ing the proposition that Andy started) states that a</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>The</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f B</p><p>ritis</p><p>h C</p><p>olum</p><p>bia]</p><p> at 1</p><p>0:05</p><p> 28 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p> 43</p><p>Collaborative Concept MappingBoxtel, Linden, Roelofs, and Erkens</p><p>voltage source gives voltage. Then, Andy contin-ues to relate the voltage source to energy and tocurrent strength. Finally, Haiko relates the conceptof current to the concept of energy.</p><p>Haiko: An electric circuit has a voltage source too, hasnt it?Andy: Yes, actually it has.Andy: (draws)Andy: And it consists of (writes) . . . And the volt- age source has . . . gives, gives . . .Haiko: The voltage source gives voltage . . .Andy: and energy.Haiko: Yes also . . .Andy: and current, isnt it? The voltage source also gives current.Haiko: And due to this current, there is energy.</p><p>We suggest that such collaborative episodescontribute to the learning of concepts, because bothstudents are actively engaged in elaborative activitiesat the same time. They are not only reflecting on andelaborating their own understanding but are also in-tegrating and elaborating the input of their partners.</p><p>Next to the use of language, shared objectsand tools can also play an important role in thenegotiation and co-construction of meanings dur-ing communication. Crook (1998) argues that col-laborating students will benefit from referentialanchors because they can support the constructionof a shared understanding: The more abstract theterms of the problem, the more helpful it may proveto have external representations...</p></li></ul>

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