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Gerrits, Ronald

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Ron Gerrits

Biomedical Engineering Program

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee, WI 53202

gerrits@msoe.edu

www.msoe.edu

 

Students of All Learning Styles Report that Knowledge Maps are Beneficial to Learning
R.J. Gerrits, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
 
I have used knowledge maps (a combination of flow diagram with some level of detail) for my physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology students for the past few years, with occasional positive comments about them on the end of course evaluations. In order to obtain more information related to their usefulness to students, a survey was designed to test the hypothesis that students of all 4 learning styles would find them useful for learning.  The survey was administered to thirty-one previous students who did not have any courses with me for at least one academic quarter. The survey was administered in sections, with the first section asking students to take and report their scores on the VARK exam, the second section asking free response questions such as “what was most beneficial to learning in Dr. Gerrits’ class” and the third section asking questions focused specifically on knowledge maps. Of the 27 students reporting their VARK scores, 10 showed no learning style preference and the rest showed preferences for V, A, R, and K with the following breakdown; 5, 1, 4 and 6, respectively, as determined by the VARK scoring sheet purchased from the VARK website. Twenty-nine students completed the free-response portion of the survey, with 69% mentioning the knowledge maps as being most helpful to learning (in comparison 28% listed “ability to explain” and 17% listed “learning outcomes”). When asked specifically about knowledge maps, 100% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that they were useful to learning, 94% have referred to them in subsequent courses and 58% have drawn their own in subsequent courses. These results indicate that knowledge maps are useful to students both during the course in which they were handed out, as well as in subsequent courses. It also indicates that many students feel the presentation style of the knowledge map is something that they would like to emulate as they study.
 
Ron Gerrits, 414 277-7561, Gerrits@msoe.edu