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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 4. Selecting the Big Ideas

Definition of a Concept


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When teachers include concept mapping in their instructional planning, it helps them adopt a big ideas approach to teaching which can ultimately improve their students’ conceptual understanding.

The focus of this chapter is on the first practice in constructing a concept map for instructional planning. Procedurally this practice is the first two steps in Figure II.1, which entail articulating a focus question for the concept map and then selecting the big ideas that help answer the focus question and ← 73 | 74 → form the basis for organizing the concept map. Conceptually these steps set the scope of the instructional planning and can initially constrain or afford opportunities to integrate the components of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). They also reflect findings from the research outlined in chapter 2 for our theory of concept mapping for instructional planning. For example, one of our early findings was that compelling teachers to include particular theoretical concepts in their concept maps seemed to encourage the inclusion of more precise and meaningful concepts in the concept maps. When teachers are planning for their students’ learning in the classroom, they need a means of determining what those theoretical concepts are on their own. On the one hand, this selection process may seem simple. Yet, on the other hand, one of our findings in a later cycle was that selecting the big ideas for the concept map was the second most common challenge that the teachers...

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