Evidence-Centered Concept Map in Computer-Based Assessment of Critical Thinking

Evidence-Centered Concept Map in Computer-Based Assessment of Critical Thinking

Yigal Rosen (Harvard University, USA) and Maryam Mosharraf (Pearson, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9441-5.ch019
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Abstract

A concept map is a graphical tool for representing knowledge structure in the form of a graph whose nodes represent concepts, while arcs between nodes correspond to interrelations between them. Using a concept map engages students in a variety of critical and complex thinking, such as evaluating, analyzing, and decision making. Although the potential use of concept maps to assess students' knowledge has been recognized, concept maps are traditionally used as instructional tools. The chapter introduces a technology-enabled three-phase Evidence-Centered Concept Map (ECCM) designed to make students' thinking visible in critical thinking assessment tasks that require students to analyze claims and supporting evidence on a topic and to draw conclusions. Directions for future research are discussed in terms of their implications to technology tools in large-scale assessment programs that target higher-order thinking skills.
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Introduction

In today’s global economy, the need for higher levels of education and thinking skills is large and growing. Proficiency in critical thinking is key not only to unlocking the world of higher education but also in the workplace and in personal, social, and civic life. In light of the importance of critical thinking skills, current large-scale assessment programs such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have embedded critical thinking in K12 assessment of science, math, and reading, as has the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009) and Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (Binkley et al., 2012), a set of critical thinking competencies includes skills such as analyzing how parts of a whole interact with each other, synthesizing and making connections between information and arguments, and asking meaningful questions to clarify various points of view. Critical thinking requires the competencies of evaluating the credibility of sources, analyzing the quality of arguments, making inferences using reasoning, and decision-making (see Lai, & Viering, 2012, for a literature review). Measuring complex skills such as critical thinking and other higher-order skills requires designing and developing assessments that address the multiple facets implied by the skill. One of the possible ways to achieve these changes in educational assessment is by providing visible sequences of actions that students have taken by using technology tools. Thinking tools are computer applications that enable students to represent what they have learned and know using different representational formalisms. Studying the role of thinking tools (often called graphic organizers) in computer-based formative assessment of higher-order thinking skills is crucial to determining whether these types of scaffolding tools can bring a real added value into large-scale programs. An interactive Evidence-Centered Concept Map (ECCM) is one of the promising technology tools in making student thinking visible in critical thinking formative assessments (Rosen, 2014; Rosen, & Tager, 2014). When creating an ECCM, students perform a task that no ordinary collection of notes may encompass. ECCM represents a personal visualization of claims and supporting evidence on a topic, as well as relationships between the claims. The tool also represents possible gaps in a student’s analysis of the topic and the ability to make a valid and reliable evidence-based conclusion. In this way, concept maps along with feedback system can be used as a formative assessment tool to enhance teaching and learning. This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of ECCM, illustrates a sample task in ECCM-based critical thinking formative assessment along with the major findings from an international pilot study, and discusses implications for development and further research directions.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Performance Assessment: An assessment activity or set of activities that requires test takers, individually or in groups, to generate products or performances in response to a complex task that provides observable or inferable and scorable evidence of the test taker’s knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) in an academic content domain, a professional discipline, or a job. Typically, performance assessments emulate a context outside of the assessment in which the KSAs ultimately will be applied; require use of complex knowledge, skills, and/or reasoning; and require application of evaluation criteria to determine levels of quality, correctness, or completeness.

Thinking Tools: Computer applications that enable students to represent what they have learned and know by using different representational formalisms. These graphic-verbal representations are constructed by individual or collaborative learners across different situations and environments. There are several classes of thinking tools, including semantic organization tools, dynamic modeling tools, information interpretation tools, knowledge construction tools, and conversation and collaboration tools.

Claim: New ideas or assertions. A claim may present information or suggest that a certain action is needed.

Critical Thinking: The capacity of an individual to effectively engage in a process of making decisions or solving problems by analyzing and evaluating evidence, arguments, claims, beliefs, and alternative points of view; synthesizing and making connections between information and arguments; interpreting information; and making inferences using reasoning appropriate to the situation.

Reliability: The consistency of scores assigned to students’ concept maps.

Concept Map: A graphical tool for representing knowledge structure in a form of a graph whose nodes represent concepts, while arcs between nodes correspond to interrelations between them.

Assessment Tasks: Directions to the test taker about what problem to solve, what product to create, or what performance or process to undertake. Directions to test takers provide information on requirements for responding, including the form or format of the response, and the features on which the response will be scored.

Evidence-Centered Concept Map: An interactive graphical tool for representing a personal understanding of claims and supporting evidence on a topic, as well as relationships between the claims.

Validity of Concept Maps: The extent to which inferences to students’ cognitive structures, on the basis of their concept map scores, can be supported logically and empirically.

Scoring System: A systematic method with which students’ concept maps can be evaluated accurately and consistently.

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