Development and use of Concept-in-Context maps to promote student conceptual understanding in an introductory materials course

Jessica Triplett, Jacquelyn E. Kelly, Stephen Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Concept-in-Context maps are instructional tools that can be used in and out of the classroom. They are multimodal visual outlines (created using Inspiration software) that show relationships between topics and include examples of real-world engineering components (such as a bicycle tire, frame and headlight lens) to contextualize conceptual topics covered on any given map. Traditional concept maps show a visual map of boxed concepts connected to one another by lines which incorporate verbs that are used to link the concepts. In the Concept-in-Context maps we are linking a wide array of different types of information that reflect the organization of content within a topical area in an introductory materials course. As such, topics can be characterized and articulated with multiple representations that can include equations, graphs, charts, macroscopic images, microscopic images, engineering components, and historical facts. Concept-in-Context maps (CCmaps) serve many different functions for students. They can be used as: a reading guide while a student reads a chapter in the textbook; as a resource to refer to during lecture; as a study guide before an exam; and, with selected words/phrases removed, as quizzes. An overarching goal of developing and implementing Concept-in-Context maps in classroom activities is to help students mentally organize new knowledge and discover how that information relates to what students already know. In effect, CCmaps help students begin to develop their own conceptual framework for a given topical area. The maps have also been used as learning tools by removing certain words or phrases from some of the boxes in the CCmap and then creating a word selection bank. Students may then select the appropriate words/phrases from the word bank and match it up with the appropriate CCmap box. After using the CCmaps for one semester, 78% of 38 students in an introductory materials class found that the maps either supported or strongly supported their learning. To this point, 15 CCmaps have been created for topics in the Materials course, as well as Concept-in-Context fill in the blank team activity maps. In the paper methods for creating and using CCmaps will be described along with an assessment on how students use them and their impact on student understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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