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Unformatted text preview: The impact of concept mapping and visualization on the learning of secondary school chemistry students Ludo Brandt, Jan Elen, Jacqueline Hellemans, Luc Heerman, Ina Couwenberg, Liesbeth Volckaert and Heidi Morisse, Centre for Chemistry Teachers Training, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: email@example.com The aim of this study was to examine whether the construction of integrated knowledge structures by students can be stimulated by concept mapping and by better visualization of concepts and their interrelationships. The investigation was carried out in regular teaching settings: chemistry courses in secondary schools in Flanders, in the domain of electrochemistry. A significant positive effect of extra attention to visualization on the learning achievement of students was found. However, significant effects of concept mapping as an instruction method could not be detected under the given research conditions. Introduction The secondary school and college knowledge of science is often characterized by lack of coherence. Instead of having well structured and integrated domain-spe- cific knowledge structures, students consider the different concepts as isolated elements of knowledge. Students do not possess a well-founded basic framework in which newly acquired concepts can be integrated. This lack of integration is suspected to be at the basis of students difficulties concerning concept formation and application of acquired knowledge in exercises (Pendley et al. 1994, Lee and Fensham 1996) and laboratory work (Stensvold and Wilson 1992) and misconcep- tions (Nakhleh 1992, Herron 1996, Taber 1997, Sanger and Greenbowe 1999). In order to explain this, relevant research literature (Nakhleh 1992, Pendley et al. 1994) suggests several reasons: . the lack of uniformity of concepts and the multitude of notation systems in use; . the highly fragmented and often very linear character of curricula in which insufficient attention is paid to concept definitions and their interrelation- ships and to relationships between concepts and phenomena; . limited attention in science education to opportunities for synthesis in which students are explicitly taught the links between different concepts and how to visualize the methods; those opportunities would enhance International Journal of Science Education ISSN 0950-0693 print/ISSN 1464-5289 online # 2001 Taylor & Francis Ltd http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/09500690110049088 INT. J. SCI. EDUC. , 2001, VOL. 23, NO . 12, 1303- 1313 students linkages between different concepts and with phenomena them- selves. In this investigation we examine whether construction of integrated knowledge structures by students can be stimulated by: . concept mapping as a method to explicit links and relations between con- cepts and as a technique to study the coherence between different concepts in students knowledge structures (Novak and Gowin 1984, White and Gunstone 1992), . visualization of concepts and their interrelationships by concretizing and by...
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