Using Concept Map Construction to Improve Metacomprehension Accuracy in 7th Graders
Across two experiments we evaluated the effects of constructing concept maps on metacomprehension accuracy (the accuracy with which students can discriminate which texts they understood more versus less). We found that 7th grade students were not adept at monitoring their own comprehension. However, constructing concept maps improved metacomprehension accuracy. Moreover, when instruction included practice texts and tests, with explicit instruction on how the concept maps could aid comprehension, producing concept maps produced higher levels of metacomprehension accuracy.
Learning from texts often involves reading and then rereading materials. To make good decisions about what to reread (regulation of study), students must accurately monitor their comprehension (Thiede, Anderson, & Therriault, 2003). Although the accuracy of comprehension monitoring (metacomprehension accuracy) is typically quite poor (Dunlosky & Lipko, 2007), recently, techniques have been discovered to improve metacomprehension accuracy for college students (for a review of research see Thiede, Griffin, Wiley, & Redford, 2009). One of these techniques, for example, requires students to generate keywords of the studied texts prior to judging comprehension (Thiede et al., 2003). In a different study, students were required to first provide a summary of the text (Thiede & Anderson, 2003). In both cases, metacomprehension accuracy improved drastically, but only at a delay after text study. However, these kinds of techniques have not been evaluated with younger students.
Across two experiments, we evaluated whether instructing 7th grade students to construct concept maps prior to judging comprehension would improve metacomprehension accuracy—as it had with college students (Thiede, Griffin, Wiley, & Anderson, 2010). Students were tested in the classroom in a regular teaching situation with the teacher present.
In Experiment 1, prior to completing the experimental procedure of studying texts, judging comprehension and taking a test for each text, 59 7th graders received eight sessions of instruction on how to construct concept maps. For the critical trial, students were randomly assigned to a concept mapping group (who constructed concept maps prior to judging their comprehension) and a no concept mapping—control—group (who reread texts instead of constructing concept maps). Metacomprehension accuracy was calculated as a gamma correlation between students' comprehension judgments and test performance. Metacomprehension accuracy was marginally better for the concept mapping group (mean gamma = .05, SEM = .17) than for the control group (mean gamma = -.41, SEM = .21), t(43) = 1.70, p
Experiment 2 differed from Experiment 1 in one respect. In Experiment 2, prior to completing the experimental procedure, 71 7th graders received instruction on how to construct concept maps, AND additional instruction on how concept maps could be useful in answering test questions. All students received five practice texts and tests, which provided experience with the inference test questions used in the experiment. For the critical trial, students were randomly assigned to either a concept mapping group (in which students constructed concept maps prior to judging comprehension, as in Experiment 1) or a comparison group (which was provided a concept map for each text for review prior to judging comprehension). Although metacomprehension accuracy did not differ across groups, t(48) Metacomprehension accuracy was better than chance for the concept mapping group (mean gamma = .34, SEM = .16), t(19) = 2.08, p = .05; whereas metacomprehension accuracy was not different than zero for the control group (mean gamma = .18, SEM = .17), t(29) =1.06, p > .05. Moreover, the additional instruction that emphasized how concepts could be useful in answering test questions produced higher levels of metacomprehension accuracy than those reported in Experiment 1.
In sum, these experiments show that 7th graders are generally not adept at monitoring their comprehension. As the results reveal, the control group in Experiment 1 had metacomprehension accuracy significantly below zero. However, our findings show that constructing concept maps improved metacomprehension accuracy, even though accuracy was still quite low. These results underline that concept mapping might not only have beneficial effects on learning as is usually assumed, but also on students' metacognitive monitoring. Additional instruction that provides information about the utility of using constructing and using concept maps could be a promising approach to improving metacomprehension accuracy adolescents.
Keith Thiede, Josh Redford, Jennifer Wiley, and Thomas Griffin. "Using Concept Map Construction to Improve Metacomprehension Accuracy in 7th Graders" 14th Biennial EARLI Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction. Exeter, England. Aug. 2011.
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