The effects of concept map-based information display in an electronic portfolio system on information processing and retention in a fifth-grade science class covering the Earth's atmosphere

Jul 8, 2013, 12:01 PM
Kim, P., & Olaciregui, C. (2008). The effects of concept map-based information display in an electronic portfolio system on information processing and retention in a fifth-grade science class covering the Earth’s atmosphere. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(4), 700-714.

Characteristics

  • Fifty 5th grade students in California participated in the study.
  • Previous research documented the benefits of using portfolio systems to learn classroom material, while other studies separately found that students have better recall of information when using a concept map vs. a traditional text format to learn material.
  • This study sought to examine the potential benefits of allowing students to manage electronic portfolio content using a concept mapping feature.
  • More specifically, the study assessed the outcomes of 5th grade students using both traditional and concept map-based e-portfolios to learn Earth Science content.
  • Students either used a text-based e-portfolio where information was presented in “tree mode” (i.e., a list of folders with subfolders under each category) or in a concept map format where information was categorized into nodes which allowed students to attach multimedia components (e.g., explanatory text or images).

Setting

  • The study took place in the students’ elementary school in California.

Method

  • Twenty-five participants were randomly assigned to the experimental group (i.e., concept mapping group) while the other 25 participants were assigned to the control group (i.e., traditional text group).
  • Students in both groups worked with the same teacher for the same amount of time over a two-week period.
  • All students took a 15-item multiple choice test on the Earth’s atmosphere prior to the treatment phase.
  • The day following the pre-test, all students accessed an electronic portfolio with information pertaining to the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Students in the control group accessed the portfolio that presented information in a text-based tree mode.
  • Students in the experimental group accessed a portfolio that presented the same information in a concept map mode.
  • Both sets of students used the portfolio to help them answer all questions to the same 15-item comprehension test, and the time required for each student to complete the test was recorded.
  • Three days later, all students took the test again without access to the portfolio in order to evaluate their retention of information.
  • Five students and the teacher were also asked to participate in post-intervention interviews.

Results

  • While taking the comprehension test with the use of the e-portfolios, students in the experimental group performed significantly better and finished the test significantly faster than students in the control group.
  • Experimental group participants also make significantly higher scores on the retention test administered 3 days later.
  • The results indicate that the concept-map display increased students’ testing efficiency and led to greater comprehension and retention.

  • Students indicated that they liked using the concepts maps because they could add pictures and other graphics to help remember content and thought that working on the computer was generally more enjoyable than doing paper-based activities.

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  • STEM
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