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Annotated Bibliography
Ron Gerrits
Because my research question relates to the instructional effectiveness of “relationship maps”, I am interested a couple of topics. These include articles that discuss the assessment of educational handouts, articles indicating how relationships between topics affects student learning, and if any particular learning style is best suited to relationship/concept maps. Because relationship maps is a phrase that is unlikely to be found in the literature, articles related to concept maps might also be useful, even though they are not quite the same thing.
Shavelson, R.J., Lang, H., and Lewin, B. (1993). On Concept Maps as Potential “Authentic” Assessments in Science. ERIC document 367691. Available at
Although these same authors published specific works in peer- reviewed journals, the benefit of this ERIC document is that it more extensively reviews the topic of concept mapping; including terminology, types/variations of concept maps, an introduction to scoring methods and some discussion in their use as assessment tools. In their discussion on assessment, they briefly review the cognitive theories that concept maps seem to fit into and how this relates to the characteristics of developing appropriate concept maps. They finish by discussing the reliability and validity concerns noted by several authors. Because this document is from 1993, newer work has contributed to the field, but this document still provides a useful overview of concept mapping. For my own purposes, it made me realize that the documents that I put together do not necessarily fit into the category of concept maps, helping point me in other directions.
Lindstrom, C. and Sharma, M.D. (2009). Link maps and map meetings: Scaffolding student learning. Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research, 5 (1) 1-11.
The description of a “link map” as used in this article is very similar to the documents that I put together for my students. The use of the maps is also similar. Specifically, this study used “link maps” that were developed by the course instructors to be used as a “different type of visual presentation of the material”. Students were invited to attend map meetings in which the link maps were presented and reviewed. Results indicated that those student who attended the map meetings scored higher on the examinations (approximately 10%) and many student also made positive comments about the use of the link maps on evaluations. It should be noted that these map meetings were above and beyond normal class and lab times, such that the positive results could possibly be attributed to one set of students spending more time on the course material. Specific ideas from this paper include the idea of “layering” in which maps are presented in segments instead of an entire map at one time, and specific questions that students could be asked related to their use of the link maps.
Hall, R.H., Hall, M.A., and Saling, C. (1999). The Effects of Graphical Postorganization Strategies on Learning from Knowledge Maps. Journal of Experimental Education, 67 (2) 101-113.
This paper focused on using expert generated knowledge maps as a way to present information to students. Students then followed up on the use of these maps to study with complete maps, maps with no text, or just text. Students who were involved in follow-up study with the maps without the text recalled a greater amount of superordinate (comprehensive) knowledge than those in the other groups, indicating that the structure of the map aids aid in this type of knowledge. There was little different between groups when subordinate (factual) knowledge was assessed. This is one of the few papers that I reviewed that divided the assessment into super- and subordinate knowledge. This paper also includes several references to early (such as 1960s) papers discussing the theory behind presenting “to-be-learned” information in both textual and graphical formats.
Breckler, J., Joun, D. and Ngo, H. (2009). Learning styles of physiology students interested in the health professions. Advances in Physiology Education. 33 30-36.
One of the questions that I have is whether or not learning style has an effect on how well a student learns from a knowledge/link/relationship map, as these are both a visual and textual presentation. Although I did not find any papers to date that addressed this specific issue, this paper does look at learning styles in students taking physiology, which is a discipline that I have developed many relationship maps for. They found that the majority of students interested in health professions have multimodal learning styles. Of those that are multimodal, 68% of those included Visual (V) and Reading/Writing (R) as at least two of their learning styles. Of those that were unimodal, only 4% were V and 15% R, but collectively it looks like maps might be useful for approximately 87% of the student population interested in health sciences – if the student groups would be similar to those included in this particular study. This paper also includes references on the design and use of the VARK questionnaire.
Wigemann, D.A., Dansereau, E.C., McCagg, E.C., Rewey, K.L. and Pitre, U. (1992). Effects of Knowledge Map Characteristics on Information Processing. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 17 (2) 136-155
Knowledge maps can be devised in more than one manner in regards to their spatial configuration (hierarchical or web), map format (single or linked maps) and variation in links. This study investigated how these differences affected the ability of students to encode (recall) or retrieve knowledge. They when students were presented with maps that were devised in a hierarchical format that students scored better on both encoded and retrieval questions. Map format and link variations did not affect all students similarly. Students with high spatial ability (which was independently assessed) scored better after using linked maps (stacked maps) while those with low spatial ability scored better after the use of single maps. Link embellishments facilitated the performance of students with high verbal ability, but hindered the performance of students with low verbal ability. These results indicate that both the map format and the spatial and verbal ability of the students impact the effectiveness of using expert-developed knowledge maps on students. It points to the importance of considering student abilities in map design. I think it is also important to consider that the students in the study were all psychology students, which may, as a group) differ from students in engineering and nursing in regards to how they interpret knowledge maps.
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