Using concept maps to learn states of matter
The observation was conducted in a year 9 class of 12 girl students who struggled with science. The topic was states of matter. From the SLH science story Strange Liquids, the teacher utilised reading materials, a student activity and a link on the SLH to access the video on Bose-Einstein condensate from YouTube.
Using video to capture students’ interest
After creating their own concept maps in twos or threes, the students compared their maps with the sample map. They then modified their own concept maps.
The teacher showed the video on Bose-Einstein condensate to students to capture their interest and to introduce key ideas – wave packet, temperature makes a difference and length of wave packet. She used questioning to facilitate student understanding of the ideas in the video.
Adapting a reading activity to suit students’ needs
The teacher then handed out the article States of matter. She had modified this to better fit the needs of the class by reducing the length of the text and adjusting and explaining some of the words. The students were asked to read and highlight key words in the article. Based on this reading activity, the teacher asked the students to build a concept map about states of matter using sticky notes on an A3 page. The students worked in pairs or threes. They wrote the key words on the sticky notes and arranged them into a concept map. Two groups then compared their concept maps to examine the similarities and differences. They took notes on an A4 page under two categories – similarities and differences.
Students’ concept maps
Next, the students worked as a whole class, with the teacher’s guidance, to compare their concept maps with the one from the SLH Strange Liquids science story. Following this discussion, they modified their own concept maps. At the end of the class, the students filled in an evaluation on their concept map learning. The evaluation included comments on their enjoyment of the activity, the key ideas they had learned, the relevance of the lesson and whether they thought the concept map had enhanced their understanding.
The teacher thought that the reading-concept map activity had been useful but was not sure whether the students had fully understood the video. From students’ evaluation notes, it is understood that most students enjoyed the concept map activity. (Mean = 3.25 – note that the highest possible score for this item was 4, which indicates the students definitely enjoyed the activity.) In students’ qualitative notes, seven out of 12 students clearly stated that they had enjoyed the activity. Nine out of 12 students thought that the concept map activity had enhanced their understanding of the content to some degree.