Comparing Expert and Novice Concept Map Construction Through a Talk-Aloud Protocol

  • Beat A. SchwendimannEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 635)


Concept map analysis usually focuses only on the final product. This case study used a talk aloud protocol to study the concept map construction processes of novices and experts. Three biology experts and three novices (9th/10th grade high school students) constructed a concept map from a given list of concepts. Findings suggest that final concept maps of high performing students cannot be distinguished from expert-generated maps. However, analysis of oral elaborations during the construction process revealed that experts often used the same link labels as novices but associated more complex knowledge with the label. Some final propositions would be considered incorrect without an oral explanation. Findings suggest extending concept map evaluation by complementing the final product with an analysis of intermediate stages and accompanying elaborations. Additionally, this study highlights that each expert created a different map and that there is no single best expert map.


Concept map construction Case study Expert-novice comparison Talk-aloud protocol Science education Biology education 



The research for this paper was supported by the National Science Foundation grant DRL-0334199 (“The Educational Accelerator: Technology Enhanced Learning in Science”). I thank my advisor Prof. Marcia C. Linn for her mentorship during the research for this paper and Prof. Pierre Dillenbourg for his support leading to the publication of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland

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