Making connections : teaching and using concept maps in a fourth grade mathematics class
Mathematics requires a vast foundational knowledge in order for students to be successful as they advance through the years. Often times, it is common for teachers to teach these foundational skills over and over to ensure mastery prior to students' advancement. Given this fact, my capstone project was dedicated to increasing students' conceptual knowledge of mathematics through the use of concept mapping in the classroom. This project spanned a total of four math investigations, with two of the investigations taught using concept mapping in addition to the regular curriculum. Data collected to identify the effects of mapping on conceptual understanding, long-term memory, motivation and teacher professionalism included; preunit, postunit, and delayed assessments, interviews, journal entries, surveys, and the concept maps themselves. The results of the study were mixed. Concept mapping had positive impact on conceptual understanding in general. Data also indicate that mapping within the classroom increased student motivation. Finally, the results indicate that concept mapping had a positive impact on my goals as a teacher and my professionalism within the community.