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We introduce “ConceptMappR,” a digital dashboard designed for teachers and lecturers utilizing concept maps in their classes. Whereas concept maps are a well-established tool to support learning processes, they often pose challenges in analysis and interpretation. Developed with support from the Innovedum Fund, our dashboard provides an efficient and versatile solution that enables users to effectively create and analyze concept maps.

How it works

  • Choose a topic that is central to your teaching and that potentially provides a common thread throughout your course.
  • Create an expert map that contains the nodes and links you consider important.
  • Choose among scenarios where students construct the entire map independently, are provided with elements like nodes and links, or correct incorrect concept maps. Consider creating files containing nodes and links or incorrect concept maps for student use.
  • Incorporate student participation in crafting the concept map.
  • Determine whether students should individually compare their maps to the expert’s map or if you should collect all student maps and analyze them collectively to gain a class-wide overview (or both).
“I haven't used the analyze tab myself, but the idea sounds great. That's one of the most important aspects of the tool, I think. I've seen many other tools for creating concept maps, but none of them does anything like this.”
(Anonymous feedback from a student)
Which challenges do lecturers encounter when using concept maps in their courses?
Using concept maps is challenging for lecturers because concept maps are difficult to interpret and time consuming to analyze compared to other methods (such as multiple-choice tests, defining feature matrices, or analogies). Current interpretation methods of concept maps typically involve heuristics, such as finding concept chains, or simply forming a subjective, intuitive overall impression of coherence. This hardly objectifiable approach is not scalable to large courses. In addition, concept maps are still often drawn on paper, which impedes an aggregated analysis.

Our digital dashboard helps students and lecturers to evaluate concept maps (also for large groups of students) and allows for more objective evaluation and assessment by implementing network analysis methods.
How can network analysis help?
Network analysis provides an objective way to analyze concept maps and the possibility of aggregating multiple maps from different students. Specifically, network analysis enables the evaluation of the following aspects: Which concepts are well connected in the concept map and thus central? Which concepts have been omitted by the students? How does the aggregated concept map across all students look like? What are the differences between the students’ maps and an expert map? These analyses can also be used to provide specific feedback to the students, such as which concepts are central to their map compared to others, and which connections they have not made compared to the expert map.
How do students perceive the tool?
The feedback we have received so far has been positive: Students particularly liked the simple, straightforward interface that does not require any installation. Students also liked the import and export functions, and the efficient aggregation of multiple maps.
We also received ideas for improvement, especially the wish for more features to draw the maps (such as colors, directed edges).
So far, we have used the dashboard in three courses and are looking for more lecturers. As the dashboard is not tailored to a specific lecture, lecturers can use it flexibly in different courses.
“Best tool used so far to create concept maps”
(anonymous feedback from a student)

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