Last semester I implemented a different kind of final exam. In the past I have used the standard multiple-choice and short-answer exams. I was thinking about making a change when I discovered Beyond Tests and Quizzes: Creative Assessment in the College Classroom, edited by Richard J. Mezeske and Barbara A. Mezeske. The second chapter, “Concept Mapping: Assessing Pre-Service Teachers’ Understanding and Knowledge,” describes an assessment method that tests higher-level thinking. The author shared his experience using concept maps as a final exam, included an example of the final exam project, offered rubrics for grading, and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the strategy. I decided this was the change I was going to make.
Creating an environment that engages students in the learning journey is not always easy. Sometimes as faculty members we ask ourselves, “Are we taking this learning journey by ourselves?” Several years ago as I began my scholarly exploration of the utility of mind mapping as a teaching and learning tool to foster critical thinking, my colleague and I instituted a mind mapping learning activity which has helped to promote student engagement in the classroom.
About eight years ago, students taking Alice Cassidy’s Biology 345 course were asked to create a learning portfolio as their final project for the course. The portfolio was intended to help students demonstrate their learning in creative ways that include examples, connections and reflections, based on three key criteria: content, links and visual diversity. Two pages of the eight-page portfolio had to be a concept map.
If you’ve never used concept mapping in your courses, you are overlooking one of the best ways to boost understanding and improve learning. During this seminar, you will learn concept mapping strategies that help students learn in dynamic, authentic and active ways.
audio Online Seminar • Recorded on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Donna Saulsberry was in a bind. As an associate professor of computer and information technology at Doña Ana Community College, one of her jobs is to prepare her networking students for the Microsoft® Certified Systems Engineer certification test. Having survived a Microsoft certification boot camp herself, she began instructing her students in much the same way as she was taught: lecture, practice, and multiple choice tests.