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Using Concept Mapping to Foster Adaptive Expertise

Enhancing Teacher Metacognitive Learning to Improve Student Academic Performance


Diane Salmon and Melissa Kelly

Concept mapping is a powerful means to promote metacognitive learning in students and teachers alike. When teachers integrate concept mapping into their instructional planning, they clarify the big ideas, expose new conceptual relationships, and refine learning goals for their students. Salmon and Kelly provide a research-based framework and corresponding strategies to help teachers develop, critique, and revise their concept maps. In using this approach, teachers refine knowledge for teaching in order to expand their adaptive expertise and ultimately improve the academic performances of their students. Teacher candidates at both the undergraduate and graduate level can use this book to support their professional learning and planning for teaching. Teacher educators will find this text appropriate for courses that address learning, cognition, and instructional planning. In-service professionals can use the approach described here to support their own professional development through their practice. Administrators and coaches will find the volume a useful tool in fostering a professional learning community in their schools.
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Chapter 1. Metacognitive Learning

Adaptive Expertise for and in Teaching


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Adaptive experts are distinguished by a metacognitive learning orientation that enables them to continually learn from what they do. When teachers approach their practice with a metacognitive awareness, they can better adapt their teaching in relation to student learning. Concept mapping for instructional planning promotes this metacognitive orientation by making thinking visible and providing a process for its critique.

In this chapter, we make explicit a theory of how and why concept maps are powerful tools for teachers in the context of their instructional planning. Through our work with teachers and our investigations into the research literature, we have found that concept mapping enables metacognitive learning by providing a scaffold that promotes teachers’ active monitoring of their conceptual frameworks for teaching various subjects. When involved in such metacognitive learning, teachers engage and extend their adaptive expertise by questioning the boundaries of their own knowledge.

The concept map depicted in Figure 1.1 represents the big ideas and associated concepts of this theory: adaptive expertise, metacognitive learning, and concept mapping. We unpack these big ideas in the upcoming sections of the chapter, further explaining the relationships among them. We begin by ← 5 | 6 → examining the definition of adaptive expertise and its significance for teaching. This discussion then leads to an exploration of metacognitive processes that support adaptive thinking, why concept mapping augments these processes, and how adaptive thinking might develop over a learning trajectory.

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