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Concept Mapping in the Science Classroom

June 19, 2012

*This review was written by Brenda Cornwell (uploaded by Jerrid Kruse).

Reference:  Guastello, E. F., T. M. Beasley, and R. C. Sinatra. “Concept Mapping Effects on Science Content Comprehension of Low-Achieving Inner-City Seventh Graders.” Remedial and Special Education 21.6 (2000): 356-64.
What is known:
  • Students have repeated exposure to narrative text
  • Students may not receive explicit instruction from content-area text
  • Students with LD have difficulty understanding expository test patterns
  • When students are shown how textbook ideas are organized they have improved reading comprehension
  • Classroom teachers and students both benefit when concept maps are used along with a cognitive mapping plan that helps students organize, plan, and understand information from readings

What this research adds:

  • Using an instructional technique that includes graphic representations is a more effective teaching approach for comprehension of science content
  • Concept mapping allows teachers and students to translate ideas and concepts into a visual, graphic array, creating a format for organizing
  • When students contribute to a visual plan, they are using content knowledge in a way that helps them remember and categorize information
  • Students are actively engaged in analyzing text
  • Students build schemata for understanding
  • Scaffolding process
    • Initial modeling/direct instruction
    • Guided practice/guided discovery
    • Independent/application

Implications for practice:

  • Students with LD are far better equipped to comprehend science if they are given strategies that scaffold their learning
  • Concept maps could incorporate the different activities into one succinct format
  • The gradual release of responsibility can be achieved by first modeling & giving students direct instruction, then having the students work in groups and finally having the students work independently to apply their understanding
  • Activities at each level of the scaffolding process should be differentiated and offer students the opportunity to explore & expand on what is already known


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