Concept mapping and learning in tertiary statistics classes

Year: 1996

Author: Roberts, Lyn, Moriarty, Beverley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Concept maps have been used extensively in science education both to promote and to measure meaningful learning. This study examines their use in measuring tertiary science students' understanding of fundamental concepts in statistical inference. A class of nineteen students enrolled in a second unit of statistics were asked to draw concept maps from lists of terms associated with the definition of a statistical problem or investigation, and with techniques of statistical inference. Each of the two maps was drawn early in the semester and then again at the end of semester. The maps were assessed using a scoring scheme which was adapted from a number of other schemes presented in the literature.

Pre and post scores on the two statistical concept maps were examined to determine changes over the semester. They were also correlated with scores on the assignment, which was the formal assessment for that unit. While there was no significant improvement in map scores over time, significant correlations were found between scores on the initial problem definition map and the assignment, and also between the assignment and the second statistical inference map. The classroom exercises involving concept mapping encouraged a different approach to cognitive processes. They are a worthwhile contribution to teaching and learning in tertiary statistics courses.