During the initial stages of lecture and laboratory development, the course instructor worked with two science education researchers and became proficient in using concept maps to measure the development of students knowledge. These early efforts were used to refine course instruction and formed the basis of a research article.

Trowbridge, J. E., & Wandersee, J. H. (1994). Identifying critical junctures in learning in a college course on evolution. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 459-473.



The purpose of this research study was to (a) describe how concept mapping can be used as an integral instructional strategy for teaching a college course in evolution, (b) evaluate the utility of incorporating concept mapping in a college course on evolution, (c) determine whether students' concept maps reveal "critical junctures" in learning as the course unfolds, and (d) assess the impact of concept mapping on students' study practices and on students' understanding of course content. Key findings include: (a) Critical junctures in learning evolution can be identified by monitoring the degree of concordance of superordinate concepts appearing on the class set of concept maps submitted after each of the course lectures; (b) students who made concept maps report spending an average of 37% more study time on this college biology course than on their previous biology courses; (c) the use of "seed concept," "micromapping," a standard concept map format, and a standard concept map checklist made the strategy feasible for the instructor to implement and for the student to adopt. A concept map performance index format was also developed for this research study in order to assess students' overall mapping performance.