Discipline: Biological Sciences
Freddie Smith - Morgan State University
Co-Author(s): Catherine Martin-Dunlap, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Morgan State University in Baltimore is encouraging its faculty to explore active learning strategies. One such innovative strategy is concept mapping that is currently part of an HBCU-UP project titled, “Impacts of the Concept Mapping Strategy in Introductory Biology Courses on Learning and Retention of Underrepresented STEM Students”. Concept mapping is a research-based graphical learning tool that helps students organize and represent knowledge of a subject in a visible diagrammatic form. It offers a ‘complementary alternative to natural language as a means to communicate knowledge’ (Gaines & Shaw, 1995, p. 2). This study is significant because there are no published studies on how concept mapping can be used with underrepresented STEM students at an HBCU. It is hypothesized that by using concept maps regularly, students will learn required biology content in a more meaningful fashion which will lead to greater academic success. The project’s methodology involves a mixed-method, quasi-experimental design. The research addresses the following questions: (1) What are the measurable impacts of using concept maps on metacognition and academic self-efficacy among underrepresented students in introductory biology courses, and, (2) What are the correlations between course grades, mapping skills, metacognition, self-efficacy, and correlations with retention rates in upper-level biology courses? For the fall 2016 semester, the experimental group consisted of three biology classes who used concept maps on a regular basis. The control group consisted of two classes who neither used nor received instruction on concept maps. Total sample size for this study was 86. Interviews and the Self-Efficacy And Learning Survey (SEALS) were conducted with both groups and maps were collected from the experimental classes to study the evolution of students’ knowledge and mapping skills. Preliminary results show that students have embraced the new strategy but need assistance to progress from the chain and spoke-style map to a more advanced network-style map. In conclusion, we predict that concept mapping will have a small but significant effect on achievement in biology over traditional, lecture-based teaching. Further research can shed light on how concept maps can provide instructors with valuable information on how to tackle individual and whole-class misconceptions about content concepts, and using concept maps in conjunction with a flipped classroom.
References: Gaines, Brian R. and Shaw, Mildred L.G. (1995). Collaboration Through Concept Maps. Knowledge Science Institute, University of Calgary.
Joost Meijer. (2013). The development of a questionnaire on metacognition for students in higher education. Educational Research Vol. 55, Iss. 1, 2013.
Pintrich, P. R., De Groot, E. V. (1991). Motivational and self-regulated learning component of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 33-40.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Thank you for the assistance and guidance I received from Catherine Martin-Dunlap. Funding was provided by an NSF/HBCU-UP grant to C. Martin-Dunlap.
Faculty Advisor: Catherine Martin-Dunlap, email@example.com
Role: I was responsible for data collection, input, and preliminary analysis.