Concept maps used as assessment tools

The use of concept maps for assessing students’ understanding is an alternative form for formative and summative assessment. Instructors may ask students to create concept maps at various points throughout the semester and use them to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching strategies and to determine ways to address student’s misunderstandings. Or, instructors may use concept maps at the end of the learning unit to determine students’ understanding of the concepts explored. Some of the issues to take into consideration when using concept maps for assessment are:

  • Instructors should develop their own concept map, include the most critical concepts, and use this as a grading guide.
  • Place an emphasis on the validity of the knowledge represented in students’ concept maps and clarify that they are not expected to develop the exact replicas of what the instructors has created.
  • Provide clearly defined grading expectations and allow for creativity in responses to flourish.
  • Students may work in groups addressing the focus question. Each group is expected to share the concept map with the whole class.
  • The instructor may use the concept map as a pre-assessment, as an introductory activity providing the opportunity to students to make links to what they already know.
  • The instructor should provide time and opportunities to students to rethink and revise their concept maps.
  • Allow time for discussion and reflection throughout the process and at the end of the lesson.

Some of the evaluation criteria could be:

  • Identification of major or more critical concepts.
  • Indication of valid relationship between concepts.
  • Ability to branch concepts between different knowledge domains.
  • Demonstration of hierarchical representation of knowledge.
  • Use of representative examples of concepts and ideas.