Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 137–144 | Cite as

Generating connections and learning with SemNet, a tool for constructing knowledge networks

  • Malka Gorodetsky
  • Kathleen M. Fisher
  • Barbara Wyman


In this paper we examine the impact of using a Macintosh-based knowledge organization toll SemNet, with prospective elementary and middle school teachers enrolled in an upper division biology course. The course models for students the ways in which they will be able to teach hands-on, minds-on science in K-8 classrooms and provides them with an in-depth understanding of a relatively small number of biology topics. This study examines changes in learning habits, metacognitive processes, retention, retrieval, and learring among students enrolled in this course. Students using SemNet tend to exhibit a significant increase in deep processing as measured by self-report. Also on the basis of self-report, SemNet students appear to acquire some cognitive skills that transfer to other courses, such as identifying main ideas and tying ideas together. SemNet students retained and retrieved nearly twice as much information about a topic, the digestive system, as a reference group. Although neither the SemNet nor the reference group exhibited transfer skills as we meansured them, there is evidence that SemNet student changed their thinking strategies.

Key Words

SemNet biology meaningful learning deep processing connections constructivism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, J. R. (1990).Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications, 3rd edition, W. H. Freeman, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Fisher, K. M., Faletti, J., Patterson, H., Thornton, R., Lipson, J., and Spring, C. (1990). Computer-based concept mapping: SemNet software, a tool for describing knowledge networks.Journal of College Science Teaching 19(6): 347–352.Google Scholar
  3. Fisher, K. M. (1990). Semantic networking: The new kid on the block.Journal of Research in Science Teaching 27: 1001–1018.Google Scholar
  4. Gentner, D. (1981). Some interesting differences between verbs and nouns.Cognition and Brain Theory 4: 161–178.Google Scholar
  5. Gunstone, R. F. (1992). Constructivism and metacognition: Theoretical issues and classroom studies. In Duit, R., Goldberg, F., and Niederer, H. (Eds.),Research in Physics Learning: Theoretical Issues and Empirical Studies, Proceedings of an International Workshop, IPN, Kiel, Germany, pp. 129–140.Google Scholar
  6. Hewson, P. (1993). Symposium on metacognition and conceptual change. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Atlanta, April.Google Scholar
  7. Salomon, G., Globerson, T., and Guterman, E. (1989). The computer as a zone of proximal development: Internalizing reading-related metacognitions from a reading partner.Journal of Educational Psychology 81: 620–627.Google Scholar
  8. Schmeck, R. R., and Ribich, F. D. (1978). Construct validation of the inventory of learning processes.Applied Psychological Measurement 2(4): 551–562.Google Scholar
  9. Schmeck, R. R., Ribick, F., and Ramanaiah, N. (1977). Development of a self-report inventory for assessing individual differences in learning processes.Applied Psychological Measurement 1: 413–431.Google Scholar
  10. Storey, K. B., and Storey, J. M. (1990). Frozen and alive.Scientific American December: 92–97.Google Scholar
  11. Tobin, K. (1993). The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education, AAAS Press, Annapolis, Maryland.Google Scholar
  12. White, R. T. (1988).Science Learning, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  13. Wilensky, U. (1991). Abstract mediations on the concrete: In Harel, I., and Papert, S. (Eds.),Constructionism, Ablex, Norwood, New Jersey, pp. 193–203.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malka Gorodetsky
    • 1
  • Kathleen M. Fisher
    • 2
  • Barbara Wyman
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of Education & ChemistryBen Gurion UniversityBeer ShevaIsrael
  2. 2.Center for Research in Mathematics & Science EducationSan Diego State UniversitySan Diego
  3. 3.Navy Personnel Research & Development CenterSan Diego

Personalised recommendations