Advertisement

Environmental connections and concept mapping: implementing a new learning technology at Lewis & Clark College

  • James D. ProctorEmail author
  • Jennifer Bernstein
Article

Abstract

What is environment? The answer to this question is fundamental to how we teach environmental studies and sciences (ESS). We follow recent scholarly literature in approaching environment as connection, not as some category of reality, and consider pedagogical implications via concept mapping, a new learning technology. Concept maps potentially offer a visually explicit means of representing and analyzing the hybrid connections between actors that define environmental issues. We explore the utility of concept mapping as pioneered by Joseph Novak and others via the Cmap Tools application, in which concept maps (cmaps) consist of concepts connected by propositions; both can include linked resources, and the resultant cmap can be collaboratively edited and shared online. We evaluate concept mapping in the context of a sophomore-level environmental methods course taught annually at Lewis & Clark College. The course includes adaptations of concept mapping drawing on Novak’s work and actor-network theory, designed for students to reflect on their environmental perspectives, synthesize course material, and explore a proposed topic for environmental research. These exercises were evaluated in fall 2010 using self-reports, assessment rubrics, and open-ended student responses. Results showed that higher achieving students generally found concept mapping more demanding and attained more sophisticated understandings of connections. This suggests that concept mapping helps facilitate the intellectual struggle that characterizes engaged learning, yet also that not all students embrace this struggle to fully grasp environment-as-connection. In a larger sense, the study illustrates challenges in cultivating new approaches to environment in the ESS community.

Keywords

Environment Connection Actor-network theory Concept mapping Learning technologies Education 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge support from The Andrew Mellon Foundation to Lewis & Clark College (2006–) for development of new interdisciplinary learning approaches and tools in environmental studies. We also acknowledge the Masters of Science in Science Education program at Montana State University, Bozeman, for which the assessment and evaluation component of this research was integrated into Jennifer Bernstein’s capstone project. A draft of this paper was presented at the Fifth International Conference on Concept Mapping, Malta, September 2012.

References

  1. Altrichter H, Posch P, Somekh B (1993) Teachers investigate their own work: an introduction to the methods of action research. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Ausubel DP (1963) The psychology of meaningful verbal learning. Grune & Stratton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Bennett J, Chaloupka W (eds) (1993) In the nature of things: language, politics, and the environment. University of Minnesota Press, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  4. Braun B, Castree N (eds) (1998) Remaking reality: nature at the millennium. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Cain KM, Dweck CS (eds) (1989) The development of children’s conception of intelligence. Advances in the psychology of human intelligence, ed. R.J. Sternberg. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  6. Cañas AJ, Hill G, Lott J (2003) Support for constructing knowledge models in CmapTools (Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2003–02). Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, FLGoogle Scholar
  7. Cañas AJ, Novak JD (2006) Re-examining the foundations for effective use of concept maps. Concept maps: theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the second international conference on concept mapping. pp. 494–502Google Scholar
  8. Cañas AJ, Novak JD, Reiska P (2012) Freedom vs. restriction of content and structure during concept mapping: possibilities and limitations for construction and assessment. Concept maps: theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the fifth international conference on concept mapping. pp 247–257Google Scholar
  9. Carr W, Kemmis S (1986) Becoming critical: education, knowledge and action research. Deakin University Press, GeelongGoogle Scholar
  10. Castree N (2002) False antitheses? Marxism, nature and actor-networks. Antipode 34(1):111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Castree N, Braun B (eds) (2001) Social nature: theory, practice, and politics. Blackwell, MaldenGoogle Scholar
  12. Commoner B (1971) The closing circle: nature, man, and technology, 1st edn. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  13. Cordeiro GB, Aguiar PL, Cicuto CAT, Correia PRM (2012) Making interdisciplinarity visible during concept mapping. Concept maps: theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the fifth international conference on concept mapping. pp 330–337Google Scholar
  14. Cronon W (ed) (1995) Uncommon ground: toward reinventing nature. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Davies M (2010) Concept mapping, mind mapping and argument mapping: what are the differences and do they matter? High Educ 62:279–301. doi: 10.1007/s10734-010-9387-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dunn R (1993) Teaching gifted adolescents through their learning style strengths. In: Dunn R (ed) Teaching and counseling gifted and talented adolescents. Praeger, WestportGoogle Scholar
  17. Evernden N (1993) The social creation of nature. The Johns Hopkins Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  18. Fleming ND, Mills C (1992) Not another inventory, rather a catalyst for reflection. Improve Acad 11:137–149Google Scholar
  19. Hargreaves D (2004) About learning: report of the learning working group. Demos, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Hendricks C (2006) Improving schools through action research: a comprehensive guide for educators. Pearson, BostonGoogle Scholar
  21. Kandiko C, Kinchin I (2012) Follow the arrows: tracing the underlying structure of a doctorate. Concept maps: theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the fifth international conference on concept mapping. pp 236–243Google Scholar
  22. Karpicke JD, Blunt JR (2011) Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science 331:772–775. doi: 10.1126/science.1199327 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kinchin IM (2001) If concept mapping is so helpful to learning biology, why aren’t we all doing it? Int J Sci Educ 23(12):1257–1269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Klein G, Moon B, Hoffman RR (2006) Making sense of sensemaking 2: a macrocognitive model. Intell Syst IEEE 21:88–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Latour B (2004a) Politics of nature: how to bring the sciences into democracy. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Latour B (2004b) Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern. Crit Inq 30:225–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Latour B (2007) Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor-network-theory. Clarendon lectures in management studies. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Latour B (2010) A plea for earthly sciences. In: Burnett J, Jeffers S, Thomas G (eds) New social connections: sociology’s subjects and objects. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp 72–84Google Scholar
  29. Latour B (2011) Networks, societies, spheres: reflections of an actor-network theorist. Int J Comm 5:796–810Google Scholar
  30. Law J, Hassard J (eds) (1999) Actor network theory and after. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Luckie D, McCray Batzli J, Harrison S, Ebert-May D (2003) Concept-connector tools for online learning in science. Int J Learn Tech 10:1051–1068Google Scholar
  32. Mason C (1992) Concept mapping: a tool to develop reflective science instruction. Sci Educ 76(1):51–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McKernan J (1996) Curriculum action research. A handbook of methods and resources for the reflective practitioner, Second Editionth edn. Kogan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. McLean J (1995) Improving education through action research: a guide for administrators and teachers. The practicing administrator’s leadership series. Roadmaps to success. Corwin, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  35. Meadows DH (1972) The limits to growth: a report for the club of Rome’s project on the predicament of mankind. Potomac associates books. Universe Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Meadows DH, Randers J, Meadows DL (2004) The limits to growth: the 30-year update. Chelsea Green, White River JunctionGoogle Scholar
  37. Mills GE (2010) Action research: a guide for the teacher researcher, 4th edn. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  38. Mintzes JJ, Wandersee JH, Novak JD (1999) Teaching for science understanding: a human constructivist view. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  39. Mintzes JJ, Wandersee JH, Novak JD (2000) Assessing science understanding: a human constructivist view. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  40. Moon BM, Hoffman RR, Eskridge TC, Coffey JW (2011a) Skills in applied concept mapping. In: Moon BM, Hoffman RR, Novak JD, Cañas AJ (eds) Applied concept mapping: capturing, analyzing, and organizing knowledge. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 23–46Google Scholar
  41. Moon BM, Hoffman RR, Novak JD, Cañas AJ (2011b) Introduction and overview of the book. In: Moon BM, Hoffman RR, Novak JD, Cañas AJ (eds) Applied concept mapping: capturing, analyzing, and organizing knowledge. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp xxi–xlGoogle Scholar
  42. Nair I, Jones S, White J (2002) A curriculum to enhance environmental literacy. J Eng Educ 91(1):57–67Google Scholar
  43. Novak JD (2010) Learning, creating, and using knowledge: concept maps as facilitative tools in schools and corporations, 2nd edn. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. Novak JD, Gowin DD (1984) Learning how to learn. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Novak JD, Cañas AJ (2008) The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct and use them (Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006–01 Rev 01–2008). Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  46. Pankratius WJ (1990) Building an organized knowledge base: concept mapping and achievement in secondary school physics. J Res Sci Teach 27(4):315–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Proctor JD (2009) Environment after nature: time for a new vision. In: Proctor JD (ed) Envisioning nature, science, and religion. Templeton Foundation Press, West Conshohocken, pp 293–311Google Scholar
  48. Ruiz-Primo M, Shalveson R (1996) Problems and issues in the use of concept maps in science assessment. J Res Sci Teach 33:569–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schau C, Mattern N, Zeilik M, Teague KW (2001) Select-and-fill-in Concept Map Scores as a measure of students’ connected understanding of science. Educ Psychol Meas 61(1):136–158Google Scholar
  50. Schmid RF, Telaro G (1990) Concept mapping as an instructional strategy for high school biology. J Educ Res 84(2)Google Scholar
  51. Soper K (1995) What is nature? Culture, politics and the non-human. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  52. Strautmane M (2012) Concept map-based knowledge assessment tasks and their scoring criteria: an overview. Concept maps: theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the fifth international conference on concept mapping. pp 80–88Google Scholar
  53. Venturini T (2009) Diving in magma: how to explore controversies with actor-network theory. Public Underst Sci 19:258–273. doi: 10.1177/0963662509102694 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. White A (2011) The use of concept mapping in ecological management: a case study involving grassland ecosystems in Victoria, Australia. In: Moon BM, Hoffman RR, Novak JD, Cañas AJ (eds) Applied concept mapping: capturing, analyzing, and organizing knowledge. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 151–167Google Scholar
  55. Wilson A (1992) The culture of nature. Blackwell, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  56. Wolff-Michael R, Roychoudhury A (1992) The social construction of scientific concepts or the concept map as a conscription device and tool for social thinking in high school science. Sci Educ 76(5):531–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yee SH, Rogers JE, Harvey J, Fisher W, Russell M, Bradley P (2011) Concept mapping ecosystem goods and services. In: Moon BM, Hoffman RR, Novak JD, Cañas AJ (eds) Applied concept mapping: capturing, analyzing, and organizing knowledge. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 193–213Google Scholar

Copyright information

© AESS 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Studies ProgramLewis & Clark CollegePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations