Professor Petrosino started today’s class with a PowerPoint presentation on the nature of concept maps. He started by drawing analogies of the mind to a computer, and mentioned several key concepts in cognitive science that inform how educators think about learning. He challenged students to think about their semantic memory, their working, memory, their short-term memory, and how they are able to interact with their memories.
Professor Petrosino then passed out a list of 15 Propositional Statements concerning the phenomena of Seasonal Change. These were propositions such as, “Amount of sunlight is determined by the length of day” and “Height of sun over horizon is determined by 23.5 axis tilt.” Student were then given 15 minutes to work either individually or in groups to create a concept map based on these propositional statements. The concept maps were created with paper and pencil, as Professor Petrosino explicitly wanted students to struggle with creating concept maps by hand first, before learning to use concept mapping software.
When students had constructed their maps, Professor Petrosino picked three of them to share their maps with the class. With each map, the class engaged in discussion about the characteristics of the map. Professor Petrosino then presented multiple concept maps based on the same propositions, showcasing the variation and consistency found in all the maps.
Before class ended, Professor Petrosino introduced the idea of a content map, which looks very similar to a concept map, but involves a very different form of thinking. He presented an example of a content map that covered Describing Change in Proportional Reasoning, taken from the AAAS Atlas of Science Literacy (http://www.project2061.org/publications/atlas/default.htm).