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Enriching traditional biology lectures digital concept maps and their influence on cognition and motivation

Author(s): Steffen Schaal

Journal: World Journal on Educational Technology
ISSN 1309-1506

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 42;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Science education | pre-service teacher education | digital concept maps | computer-assisted learning | concept and content knowledge

Higher education deals with complex knowledge and university teaching should focus on conceptual understanding. Adequate knowledge structures are essential and active knowledge construction should be supported for meaningful learning. But traditional lectures mostly are structured by slides which may misleadingly cause linear representations of knowledge. In this study, a framework for digital concept maps was developed to complement lectures in human biology. The course was aimed at student science teachers at the undergraduate level. The work is based on theoretical research on computer-supported learning, on knowledge structures perspectives within learning environments as well as on self-determination theory. Each session was supplemented by a digital, multimedia-enriched concept map. After each single lecture, students had free access to the concept maps to reinforce the latest topics. The objective of the study was to examine if the use of complementary concept maps (i) influences achievement and (ii) if motivational variables influence the use of the concept maps. In both cases, influences of computer-user self-efficacy were expected (iii). The students’ (N = 171) concept map use was logged, achievement was tested and motivational variables were surveyed (e.g. interest/ enjoyment, perceived competence, effort/ importance, value/usefulness). The logfile-data allowed distinguishing learners according to their concept map use. Results reveal the benefit of additional concept maps for achievement, positive motivational aspects and computer-user self-efficacy as mediating factors showed some influence. The emphasize of further research should be on students’ active engagement in structuring their individual learning by constructing concept maps themselves, especially in science education courses.
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