The effects of concept mapping on pre-nursing students' ability to recall physiological concepts
The purpose of the study was to compare the effects of two instructional strategies on pre-nursing students' ability to recall physiological concepts. Two computer programs, one using paragraphs and concept maps and another using paragraphs and fill-in-the-blank questions, comprised the instructional strategies. Ausubel's Assimilation Learning Theory was used as the conceptual framework. The sample consisted of 46 pre-nursing students enrolled in an anatomy and physiology course.
A two-group, before-after, quasi-experimental design was used to study the hypotheses. Four intact course sections were randomly assigned to the control (fill-in-the-blank questions) or the experimental (concept mapping) group. The experimental group completed the computer assisted program that used paragraphs and interactive concept maps of specific physiological concepts about fluid volume. The control group completed the computer assisted program that covered the same concepts with paragraphs and fill-in-the-blank questions. The treatment was administered during the laboratory class periods. Both groups received a pretest, an immediate posttest, and a 6-week posttest.
Demographic data about the subjects was obtained by using a questionnaire. A 20-item multiple-choice test was administered as the pretest, immediate posttest, and 6-week posttest. Descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentages and means were used to describe the sample. The alpha level was set at.05 and the hypotheses were analyzed by using a two-way analysis of variance with repeated measures and an analysis of covariance. The analyses showed no significant differences between the treatment groups in the scores for either the immediate posttest or the 6-week posttest.
In this study, as a method for recalling physiological concepts, concept mapping was no more effective than reading paragraphs and filling in the blanks. Extraneous variables such as prior knowledge, learning styles, achievement motivation, and practice could have contributed to the nonsignificant results. The nonsignificant findings of this study contradicted previous research findings and could possibly be explained by the one-time implementation of the strategy, random assignment of intact classes, and the advanced level of the instruments.