Concept Mapping as a Research Tool to Evaluate Conceptual Change Related to Instructional Methods

Nov. 10, 2009

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, v. 32 no. 4 (November 2009) p. 365-378.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Concept maps are commonly used in a variety of educational settings as a learning aid or instructional tool. Additionally, their potential as a research tool has been recognized.

The purpose of this article is to describe a process and protocol for researchers to follow when using concept maps as a research tool. To illustrate the viability of concept maps as a research tool, specific steps and examples are provided. The examples are from a research study that investigated the conceptual change of pre-service and in-service teachers after participation in special and general education courses using multimedia case-based instruction.


Data were collected on 251 research participants. The participants were higher education students enrolled in 20 teacher education courses that used multimedia case-based instruction. The instruction occurred with pre-service and in-service teachers, in both special and general undergraduate/graduate education courses, in four geographically diverse institutions of higher education (Fitzgerald, Hollingsead, Koury, Miller, & Mitchem, 2004-2007).

The research pool demonstrated a balance of participants with and without teaching experience. While enrolled in the courses, 43% had no teaching experience, 15% were novice teachers with up to 3 years experience, and 42% had 3 or more years of prior teaching experience.
In respect to access to classrooms for application of knowledge and skills during training, 58.5% were not teaching while enrolled and 41.5% were simultaneously teaching while enrolled in their course.

Support for concept maps as a research tool to evaluate learning and growth in knowledge are provided with specific procedures for creating a concept map quality scoring system.

Fitzgerald, G., Hollingsead, C., Koury, K., Miller, K., & Mitchem, K. (2004-2007). Implementation of case-based instruction in multiple contexts: Process, outcomes, and transfer of knowledge and skills (VRCBD-RC, Project #H327A030072). Washington, DC: United States Department of Education.

Updated: Jan. 12, 2010