Book Chapter

Comparing expert and novice concept map construction through a talk-aloud protocol

Concept maps can be used as generative assessment tools to identify changes in learner’s understanding. However, concept map analysis usually only focuses on the final product. This case study used a talk aloud protocol to study and compare the concept map construction processes of novices and experts. Three biology experts (two researchers and one teacher) and three novices (9th and 10th grade high school students) constructed a concept map from a given list of concepts. Screen recording software was used to capture and contrast different stages of the concept map construction process, aligned with audio recordings of talk-aloud utterances. Findings suggest that final concept maps of high performing students cannot be distinguished from expert-generated maps. However, analysis of oral elaborations during the construction process revealed that experts often used the same link labels as novices but associated more complex knowledge with the label. Additionally, some final propositions would be considered incorrect without an additional oral explanation. Analysis of intermediate stages revealed insightful clusters and temporal flows that were no longer identifiable in the final map. Findings suggest extending concept map evaluation by complementing the final product with an analysis of intermediate stages and accompanying elaborations. Additionally, this study highlights that each expert created a different map and that therefore there is no single expert map. This observation is important when considering using a single expert-generated concept map as the reference to evaluate student-generated maps. Findings from study improve our understanding of concept map generation processes and our understanding of knowledge represented in concept maps.

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