Concept mapping by preservice elementary teachers: A case study of the effects in an integrated methods course

Date of Completion

January 1995


Education, Teacher Training|Education, Sciences|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Science education in the United States is presently undergoing examination and change in response to poor student performance on nationwide achievement tests (Suter, 1992). Reforms in mathematics and science education stress the importance of helping students develop active linkages between disciplines (NCTM, 1989; Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1990). The challenge facing educators at all levels is incorporation of recent research and reform recommendations into existing programs. University educators must help preservice teachers learn meaningfully so they can become effective in helping their students to do the same (Beyerbach & Smith, 1990; Hoz, Tomer & Tamir, 1990). It has been demonstrated in isolated disciplines that the use of metacognitive tools like concept maps can help all teachers construct knowledge and develop attitudes favorable for such goals (Roth & Roychoudhury, 1993). Concept mapping, as described by Novak (1984), appears to be a useful approach to instruction and assessment in an integrated mathematics/science/social studies course because of its graphic representation of knowledge construction and explicit portrayal of the linkages between concepts.^ The purpose of this research was to examine the effectiveness of concept mapping as an alternative form of instruction and assessment, in an integrated mathematics/science/social studies elementary methods course. The participants in the study were seventh semester education majors enrolled in the integrated, elementary methods course at The University of Connecticut during the fall semester of 1994. A case study approach was used to create a rich picture of the strategy's impact on student knowledge construction. Triangulated data included interviews, participant observation field notes, student and instructor constructed concept maps, and a researcher reflexive journal.^ The results of this study appear consistent with those of previous research. Developing concept maps enhanced some students' reflective processes enabling them to engage in a more meaningful learning process. Creating concept maps forced some students to organize their thoughts, look for meaningful connections and acknowledge their own deficits. In addition, some students gained a better understanding of how they, and others, thought about connecting concepts in integrated activities. For many of the preservice teachers concept maps provided an effective vehicle for sharing their understandings. ^