Promoting conceptual understanding in engineering statics through the use of adaptive concept maps

Jacob P. Moore, Christopher B. Williams, Chris North, Aditya Johri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In this paper, the authors discuss their continuing work on a NSF TUES Phase 1 project in which they are exploring the feasibility and effectiveness of a scalable concept map as an organizational tool for a digital textbook. This tool, termed the Adaptive Map, is designed to promote students' conceptual understanding by using an expert-generated concept map as an advance organizer. Because large concept maps become visually cluttered and are therefore less effective as learning tools, information visualization techniques have been employed to visualize the digital concept map content. These techniques structure the visual organization of the map for the content based on the users' current focus, which provides them context for detailed content information while also managing the cognitive load imposed on the learner. The authors are exploring the tool's effect on conceptual understanding and cognitive load. To measure the tool's effect on conceptual understanding, researchers are using verbal explanation sessions, and the Statics Concept Inventory. To measure cognitive load, researchers used self-reported values of mental effort during the data collection sessions, which were designed to ensure that students needed to explore content using the Adaptive Map or their regular textbook. Preliminary results indicate that if students are given an opportunity to adapt to the radically different format of the Adaptive Map, they prefer the Adaptive Map tool to their traditional paper textbook. The data also seems to suggest that the students studying with the Adaptive Map tool tend to focus more on conceptual knowledge, where students studying with the traditional paper textbook tend to focus more on procedural knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
StatePublished - 2013
Event120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2013Jun 26 2013


Other120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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