Using concept mapping to enhance high school physics instruction

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


This study investigated the effects of using concept maps in the instruction of a high school physics class at a small classical Christian school. Eight students were the focus of the study on the level of understanding and long-term memory of physics concepts. The study also included student motivation, student engagement, as well as teacher attitude, motivation, preparation time and grading time. Students learned to identify concepts, hierarchically order concepts, and to relate the concepts to each other. The study was done comparing a two-week nontreatment unit on momentum to a two-week treatment unit on periodic motion and a two-week treatment unit on waves. In the treatment units, concept mapping was used interactively and cooperatively with the students in the classroom to show concepts and the relationships between the concepts. Various instruments were used including targeted assessments, student concept interviews, student surveys, colleague observations, and teacher observations were used for assessing the effects of concept mapping. The results of the study were mixed. Data indicated that concept mapping had a positive effect on the student level of understanding, student engagement and on teacher attitude and motivation. For long-term memory of concepts, the treatment unit on periodic motion was better than the nontreatment unit on momentum, but the treatment unit on waves was worse than the nontreatment unit. The effect on student motivation was neutral. The preparation and grading time took longer for the treatment unit, but the preparation was better. I look forward to incorporating concept mapping into my teaching style.




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