Greer2 - 40 THEORY INTO PRACTICE Winter 2002 Promoting...

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40 THEORY INTO PRACTICE / Winter 2002 Promoting Thinking Through Peer Learning A N IMPORTANT AIM OF INSTRUCTION in schools is that students learn the concepts that are used within specific domains, and that they improve their ability to use these concepts in their mutually agreed-upon “scientific” meanings. Several authors suggest that students learn domainspecific concepts by using them in spoken communication—through talking about and “with” concepts (Duit & Treagust 1998; Lemke, 1990; point of view, then, collaborative learning tasks have a strong potential to contribute to the learning of concepts, because they can provide students with the opportunity to talk about and use them to describe and explain phenomena. In addition to the composition of the group, the group size, the reward structure, and the preparation for group work, the task itself has an important role in shaping the quality of the student interaction (Derry, 1999; Van der Linden, Erkens, Schmidt, & Renshaw, 2000; In this article we discuss the potential of collaborative concept-mapping tasks. In our research, we used a concept-mapping task in three experimental studies. Participants in the studies were 15- to 16-year-old students from secondary-level physics classes. The students collaborated in pairs on a concept-mapping task that functioned as the introduction to a new course about electricity. In each study, we manipulated the task design and compared the student interaction that emerged in the different task conditions. In all studies, we videotaped and transcribed the student interactions and analyzed the transcripts. Several studies (Horton, McConny, Gallo, mapping results in meaningful learning. Making a concept map helps learners become aware of and reflect on their own (mis)understandings; it helps students take charge of their own meaning-making. Further, it contributes to the development of an integrated conceptual framework. Most of the concept-mapping studies focus on the construction of a concept map by individual students or a teacher. In line with the findings of Roth and Roychoudhury (1993, 1994) and Sizmur and Osborne (1997), we concluded that concept mapping, as a collaborative learning activity, is successful in provoking and supporting a student discourse that contributes to the appropriation of physics concepts.
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Students in the three studies in which we used concept mapping as a group task showed significant learning gains (van Boxtel, 2000). It appeared that the learning outcomes were related to the quality of the student interaction. The more talk about physics concepts and the more elaborative that talk, the higher the learning outcomes. Carla van Boxtel
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course COM 350 taught by Professor Greer during the Spring '08 term at Point Loma.

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Greer2 - 40 THEORY INTO PRACTICE Winter 2002 Promoting...

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