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3211251

3211251

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06/15/2009

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Using Concept Mapping to Aid African American Students' Understanding in Middle GradeScienceAuthor(s): Donald Snead and Barbara YoungSource:
The Journal of Negro Education,
Vol. 72, No. 3 (Summer, 2003), pp. 333-343Published by: Journal of Negro EducationStable URL:
Accessed: 25/08/2008 10:19
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=jne.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
 
Using
Concept
Mapping
to
Aid
African
American
Students'
Understanding
n
Middle
Grade
Science
Donald SneadandBarbaraYoung
Thisarticlereportsn the resultsofanine-weekinvestigationhatexaminedheeffectivenessofconceptmappingn sciencechievementof182AfricanAmericanmiddlegradeciencetudents,distributedntoeightntactearthcience lasses(byabilityevels).Abilityevelwas examinedsa covariaten studentachievement.or thissample fstudents,nalysesofcovariancendicatednosignificantverallffects ftreatment n scienceachievement.statisticallyignificantffectwasfoundetweenonceptmappingndtudent chievementmongheaveragetudentsmeasuredbycombinedperformancessessmenttems.The esultssuggesthatconceptmappingasapositiveeffectonaveragelower)abilityevelAfricanAmericancience tudents.
Severalyearsago,scienceeducatorsrecommendedmajorreformsregardingtheteachingofscienceinthenation'spublicschools(NationalResearchCouncil,1996).Scienceeducatorsissuedthisrequestfor reformbecauseagrowingnumber of studentsweregraduatingfrompublicschoolswithoutdemonstratingcompetentscientificliteracyenablingthemto functionin atechnologicaland scientificcommunity.Since the reformmeasureswereinitiated,datareported bytheNational AssessmentofEducationalProgress(NAEP, 2001)indicatedthat studentsinfourthandeighthgradesperformedbetterin2000thanpreviousyears,andoverall,Americanstudentsshowed academicimprovementinsciencecomparedto studentsinCanadaand severalEuropeanand Asian countries.Although gainswereindicatedoverall,eighth-gradesciencestudentsdid notperformas wellasfourth-gradesciencestudents.Inspiteof overallgains,AfricanAmericaneighth-gradescience studentsstilllagbehind othereighthgradersinachievinganadequatelevel of scientificliteracy.Thisassertionis basedon severalfactors.First,as notedin the NAEPreport(2001),AfricanAmericanstudentslagfar behindWhite and Asianstudents enrolledinthe sciences.Second,thesedata indicatethat fewerAfrican Americanstudentstake advance sciencecoursesinhighschool.Third,AfricanAmerican studentsareunderrepresentedinsciencemajorsat thecollegelevel(Fouad,1995;Gates,2001).Fourth,for mostAfricanAmericanstudents,theonlycoursesavailable are scienceclassesdesignedtoaward creditwithoutexpectationsto learn(DeBacker&Nelson,2000; Fouad,1995;Gates,2001).Thislack of achievementbyAfrican Americanmiddle school sciencestudentsis furtheraddressedin The Centerfor Researchon EducationDiversityand Excellence(CREDE,2002)investigationinvolvingmiddle school studentsto determinewhatand how"diverse"studentslearn about scientificideas.Thisinvestigationreportsthat classroompracticesdesignedtoengagediversestudents(AfricanAmericanandHispanic)inexplor-ingthepotentialmeaningand functions oftheir ownideas about scientificphenomena
JournalofNegroEducation,Vol.72,No.3(Summer2003)Copyright
?
2003,HowardUniversity
333
 
resultedinhigherlevelsofparticipationandadeeperunderstandingof scientificphenom-ena. These ideasfromCREDEsuggestteachingscience via scientificinquiry,whichis atthe heart of the National ScienceEducation Standards(AmericanAssociation for theAdvancementinScience,1995;Odom&Kelly,1998),is amoreeffectivemethodologyforthese students. Sinceanimportant partof scientificinquiryinvolves students communicat-inganunderstandingofthe evidence collectedandanexplanationabouttheevidence,students needto understand therelationshipsbetweenexplanationandevidencederivedfrominvestigations(Ruiz-Primo&Shavelson,1996).OdomandKelly(1998)stated thatconcept mapping,aninquiry-orientedandstudent-centeredtool,maybeaneffectivetoolto enableAfrican American students to learnscience via scientificinquiry.Aconcept mapis adiagramindicatinga student'sunderstandingof theinterrelationship among concepts.Conceptsarearrangedinahierarchy(fromgeneraltospecific),connectedwithalabelline. The word or shortphraseon the linerepresentsthe natureoftherelationshipbetweenconnectedconcepts.ConceptMappingand ScienceAchievementTheconceptmapping strategyis well documentedinscience educationteachinglitera-ture(Baroody&Bartels,2000;Bolte, 1999; Callison, 2001;Dorough&Rye,1997;Edmond-son,1995;Mohame-Wafaie,1997; Novak,1991,1993;Pendley,Bretz,&Novak,1994).Muchof the attention focusesonthe effectivenessof theconcept mapping strategyasaninstructional andlearningtool toenhancescienceachievement.Yet,relativelyfewstudiesevaluate the instructionaleffectivenessofconcept mappingon middlegradesciencestudents and evenfewer focus onAfricanAmericanmiddle school science students. Thisarticlereportsthe researchfindingsof Snead(2000)who conductedastudyon"TheEffectofConceptMappingonMiddle School Science Achievement." Thestudydidnotinitiallyfocus on AfricanAmericanmiddle school levelstudents, however,morethan56%of theparticipantsintheaverage(lower)abilitylevelgroupwereAfricanAmerican.As aresult,thesedata are included hereinfor discussion.Twoquestionsframedthisinquiry:1.When used asan instructional andlearningtool,what effectdoesconceptmappinghave onimprovingstudents'achievementin middleschool?2.Whateffectdoesconcept mappinghaveon achievementofstudentswith differentabilitylevels?Ingeneral,concept mapshave beensuccessfullyconstructedbystudentsfromkinder-gartentocollegeand havebeen determinedto be effectiveforrecognitionoforganizationalpatternsandproblems,andretainingscientificinformation(Cliburn,1990;Moreira,1977;Penello,1993;Willerman &MacHarg,1991).Concept mappinghas beendevelopedasamethod oftappinginto a learner'smental structureandprovidingthe learnerandteacherwithwaysto seewhat thelearneralreadyknows. Novakand Gowin(1984),twoleadingresearchersinconcept mapping,assert:
We donotclaimthataconceptmapisacompleterepresentationf the relevantconceptsandpropositionsthat thelearnerknows,but wedoclaimthat it is a workableapproximationromwhich both students andteacherscanconsciouslyanddeliberatelyexpandand moveforward.(p.40)
Advantagesof theconceptmapping strategyare numerous(Edmondson,1995;Jegede,Alaiyemola,&Okebukola,1990; Mason, 1992; Pankratius,1990;Schmid&Telaro,1990).Concept maps helpthe teacherdesignbetter lessonplansby increasing cognitivelearningandby focusingonhigherorderlearning,such aslogicalthinking,analysis,andapplica-tion.Intheprocessofmappingconcepts,students'misconceptionsarerecognizedandmaybe corrected.Unfortunately,the few research articlesavailable ontheeffectivenessofconceptmappingand student achievementin sciencegivemixedresultsconcerning334TheJournalof NegroEducation

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