Concept Maps for Middle School Computer Science Assessment

Gabriel De Pace, University of Rhode Island


Concept Mapping has long been used in academic settings for various pur- poses but has been underutilized for assessment. Creating the concept map task and scoring the maps have been barriers to their widespread acceptance, but these difficulties are mitigated with automation and simple tools for the teacher to use. The aim of this work is to show that concept maps can be used effectively as computer science assessments in secondary schools. Ultimately, they can be used to measure student knowledge and to complement other forms of classroom assessments. We used the CS Discoveries Units 1-3 Curriculum taught in two newly trained and one veteran computer science teachers’ classrooms to demonstrate that a concept map task could be used to achieve similar results to more traditional forms of assessment. The concept maps were collected using a web browser-based program and scored by another computer program using eight different scoring schemes created by the researchers. We compared these scores to assessments created by the teacher and an assessment created by the researchers that aligns with the objectives of the curriculum. The tools and concept map assessment method are appropriate for distance learning, and we found they offer an assessment alternative comparable to and complementary to existing methods.