Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)


Natural Sciences (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



A concept map is an educational tool designed to help identify, represent, and categorize relationships between different ideas relating to an overall concept. Relationships or transitions between the ideas are created by students and can either be static or dynamic. Static transitions help to describe, define, and organize knowledge for a given domain. Dynamic transitions show how a change in quantity, quality, or state in one concept causes change in quantity, quality, or state in the other concept. The focus question of the map directs student input of the concepts and ultimately determines what types of transitions are used. The study by Derbentseva et al. (2006) provides a framework for how to influence students to utilize dynamic thinking in a concept map by directing the focus question toward more analysis of a subject rather than simple description. By changing the wording of the focus question, this study examined the difference in the amount of dynamic transitions used by students to break down a concept. The study was run on two different populations in order to find a trend between the wording of the focus question and the number of dynamic transitions used. Gender, academic level, and methodology were also evaluated and shown to have no effect on the dynamic transitions in a concept map. Overall, when students were asked to answer a “How does…work?” question, they used more dynamic than static transitions to break down a concept. When students were simply presented with a “What is…?” question, their overall thinking proved to be more static in nature. An increase in dynamic thinking means a shift from a recall level of thinking towards a more conceptual level of thinking, which should lead to an increase in student academic gains.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Slezak, Cyrill