Using Concept Maps to Facilitate Collaborative Simulation-Based Inquiry Learning

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This study investigates the effect of a shared concept-mapping task on high school students' learning about kinematics in a collaborative simulation-based inquiry setting. Pairs of students were randomly assigned to a concept-mapping condition (12 pairs) or a control condition (13 pairs). Students in the concept-mapping condition had a computer-supported collaborative concept-mapping tool that aimed to integrate concepts and propositions. Students in the control condition used the same learning environment without the concept-mapping tool. Students' interactions with each other and with the simulation were tracked by log files. Learning was assessed with tests of intuitive and structural knowledge and a proposition test. Students in the concept-mapping condition exchanged significantly more chat messages related to experimentation, interpretation, and drawing conclusions and were more engaged in integration-oriented consensus building, which regression analysis showed to be positively related to learning gains for both intuitive and structural knowledge. Students in the concept-mapping condition outperformed their peers on the intuitive and structural knowledge tests. These results suggest that concept maps can positively influence consensus-building activities and learning in a collaborative inquiry-learning setting. The findings of the current study thereby contribute to the ongoing debate about (shared) graphical representations as scaffolds for collaborative learning
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-374
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of the learning sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • METIS-297109
  • IR-86867

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