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Abstract

Concept maps, a specific kind of mental model, are one method of representing and measuring an individual's knowledge. They are an alternative tool for teaching through building relevant associations, and a method for measuring knowledge and recall over time. Concept maps provide a visual representation of conceptual and relationship knowledge within a particular domain. Concept maps look like a spider web, consisting of many nodes (i.e., key concepts) connected to one another by lines that indicate relationships. In the learning process, students can develop concept maps as an alternative to traditional note-taking by building associations of non-linear key concepts and organizing them to fit with their individual learning styles and frames of reference. The presence of concepts and relationships on a map can provide an instructor with a snapshot of student knowledge and understanding. The proximity and connection of key concepts provide insight for instructors attempting to evaluate how ideas from class were absorbed by students. Conversely, the absence of concepts or relationships, or inappropriate connections between unrelated concepts, provide clues about what information students failed to internalize or incorporate. Concept maps may aid the instructor in assessing what students understand and how they relate the material to the overall course goals. They are easily taught and can be incorporated in introductory units, mid-term reviews and assessments, or end-of-course reviews and assessments.

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