Jonassen (1996) provides examples of how concept maps can be used to assess learning. Use the following information to assess your concept maps, however, keep in mind that there is no “right” concept map.
Each student, or group of students, will likely build a different map, based upon their personal experiences. It is also important to understand that assessment of a concept map must be consistent with the needs of the content domain.
For example, cause and effect relationships may be the focus in a physics course, while a biology course may emphasize hierarchical relationships between concepts (Jonassen, et al., 1997).
- Assess the change in your map at various stages of a course.
Concept maps can be a dramatic way to view how your knowledge changes as a result of instruction. Concept maps that you create at the beginning and end of the course provide evidence of your growth in knowledge.
- Compare your concept map to the concept map of an expert.
Your concept map can also be compared to the concept map of an expert, most likely the course instructor. Before selecting this model, however, it is important to understand that one of the major advantages of concept maps is that they allow learners to represent knowledge through their personal experiences. This model, therefore, somewhat compromises an important advantage of concept maps.
- Compare your map to the goals of the course.
A third model is to compare your concept map to the course goals. Reviewing individual concept maps will provide evidence of how much the individual learner progressed toward these goals.
Criteria for assessing concepts, also referred to as nodes, include:
- Accuracy of concepts. Is the learner’s perception of the content domain accurate? Are the concepts correctly labeled?
- Breadth of concepts. Does the concept map reflect the breadth of the content domain? A concept map with a greater number of nodes reflects greater breadth.
- Depth of concepts. Does the concept map reflect the depth of the content domain? The depth of the map is measured by the number of levels of concepts.
- Relative importance of concepts. Are major and minor concepts represented as such? Is greater weight given to more important concepts?
Criteria for assessing relations, also referred to as links, include:
- Validity of links. Are the relationships established between concepts or nodes valid? If the map is hierarchical, are hierarchical links established? Likewise, are causal links established if the map is causal?
- Preciseness of link labels. Are the labels used to describe the exact nature of the relationship?
- Economical use of links. Are links established in the most economical way possible, without becoming too general in nature?
An additional tool you may want to use to evaluate your concept maps is a check list. Click the link below to download the file to your computer or view the checklist as a Web (HTML) page. The file is available in four different file formats to accomodate different computer configurations. Please choose the file format most likely to work with your computer system.