RTF Scheme





Research Training Fellow:
Robin M. Bevan
(Deputy Headteacher)
King Edward VI
Grammar School

Broomfield Road,
Chelmsford CM1 3SX

Telephone: (01245) 353510

What the project aims to do

The project will investigate, through research and development, how computerised concept mapping can be developed in a manner informed by a sound theory of learning. It will also investigate approaches to the application of concept mapping software in both summative and formative assessment contexts. The project will determine the efficiency and effectiveness of concept mapping in assessment, and in pupil learning, across a variety of secondary school contexts.

*[Maddison (1982) distinguishes between software which gives no indication to the user of the processes being examined, so called 'black boxes'; and those which are relatively transparent, which he calls 'glass boxes' (pp66-7).]

The rapid pace of developments in computer technology has provided schools with extensive opportunities to exploit approaches to learning through ICT. The nature of software design has led to a situation where learning through ICT is dominated by (i) sequences of closed tasks – many 'disguised' by being quite advanced in their complexity and appearance, and (ii) skills based training – learning how to use a breadth of applications software: word-processing, spreadsheets, etc.

Research across a number of separate disciplines has recently been combined to provide teachers with increasing knowledge regarding 'how people learn'.

In this project theories concerning learning and the construction of knowledge will be used to inform the design and deployment of one particular type of software. Concept-mapping allows students to represent their increasing knowledge and understanding through adaptable diagrammatic structures. The ease and effectiveness of classroom approaches with concept-mapping software will be determined.

The project aims to:

1. to establish a sound theoretical basis for the design, development and deployment of computerised concept-mapping;

2. to provide evidence to support the efficient and effective use of computerised concept-mapping in the secondary classroom, especially its potential to raise standards of attainment;

3. to establish informed pedagogical practice with computerised concept-mapping across a number of schools;

4. to develop personal skills not only in the implementation of original research, but also in the understanding and application of exisiting literature;

5. to advance the appreciation for, and application of, evidence-informed practice across a number of schools;

6. to secure and sustain a more established bridge between teacher-practitioners and research communities.

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