The Impact of Concept Mapping on the Process of Problem-based Learning

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Wichard Zwaal
Hans Otting


A concept map is a graphical tool to activate and elaborate on prior knowledge, to supportproblem solving, promote conceptual thinking and understanding, and to organize andmemorize knowledge. The aim of this study is to determine if the use of concept mapping(CM) in a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum enhances the PBL process. The paperreports on two studies. The first study was conducted with four PBL groups, with twogroups using concept mapping. In the second study, three of seven groups were assignedto use concept mapping. All PBL groups were audio- and videotaped. Results show thatconcept mapping did not lead to more or better matching learning goals. Neither did itaffect the time spent on step 4 of the seven-step method. When evaluating the PBL session,students working with concept mapping were more satisfied with the execution ofstep 4, the decision-making process, and the communication within the group. Thoughindications exist that concept mapping might be a useful tool to enhance the process ofPBL, further research is needed, controlling for the impact of the quality of the problemsand the tutor interventions.

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