I used to be big into concept maps as an additional way for my students to show understanding besides a quiz or test. In fact, so much so, that my students a few years ago had to make a concept map as a mandatory test review. I’ve shied away from that over the past few years in a new school (why? I’m actually not so sure) - probably because I got too much information from my students about their level of understanding. I’m sure if I conducted a rigorous method of assessment, there would be a correlation between how well students could connect ideas and assessment scores.
In the November issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, the authors of Developing and Implementing an Assessment Technique To Measure Linked Concepts describe their more manageable, quantifiable methods (“closed ended” tools versus “open ended” tools, like concept maps) and share some of those tools (in the article and not supporting information- thanks!).
I’m left with these question for the authors of the article.
I’m curious as to why they chose the connections that they did in their own probes for students. Why do you desire that students make these particular connections? Are all types of connections equally important? The questions on the probes seem to be based upon recalling knowledge and skills (depth of knowledge, DOK, levels 1 and 2, per Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels). If I were to administer some of the probes directly in my classroom, would my results tell me that students can make connections or that they can recall topics related to this one scenario? Hard to say without digging deeper into my student thinking.
Are connections among DOK levels 1-2 as important as connections among DOK levels 3-4? What is the balance? For instance, as a research scientist, you are expected to make connections among many different areas of the literature to attack your work from a variety of angles (DOK 3-4). Is the assumption that we might consider testing connections among DOK levels 1-2 so that students can eventually attack DOK levels 3-4?
I ask these questions because they are the questions I have about my own practice. I’m working on a post about assessment during a long term project, and it has taken me forever to write it because it’s turned into a monster. Assessment is tough for all of us. There are a lot of layers to unpack surrounding student thinking - the authors spend a lot of time at the end discussing limitations and future work. Ultimately, I appreciate their efforts to remind people like me to engage my students in building meaning and making connections.