This paper aims to describe a method of teaching that is based on Novak's concept‐mapping technique.
The paper shows how concept mapping can be used to measure prior knowledge and how simple mapping exercises can promote the integration of teachers' and students' understandings in ways that are meaningful.
The concept‐mapping method facilitates quick and easy measures of student knowledge‐change so that teachers can identify the parts of the curriculum that are being understood and those that are not. This is possible even among very large student groups in the 50‐minute slots that are allocated to so much teaching in higher education.
Concept mapping is discussed in the wider context of student learning style. The styles literature has been criticised because it tends to encourage undue labelling of people or behaviours. The approach described here also uses “labels” to typify learning (using the terms non‐learning and rote or meaningful learning to identify different qualities of change).
The difference in this approach is that terms are attached to empirical measures of learning outcome, not to personal or psychological styles. Concept mapping makes learning visible so that the actual quality of the learning that has occurred can be seen and explored. Using concept mapping in the course of teaching means that learning is no longer a complex and intractable process, measurable only by proxy, but an observable phenomenon.
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