Concepts are key to human cognition and play an essential role in all human knowledge especially in science. While most teachers aim at developing higher cognitive skills and meaningful learning, the reality is that rote learning is still the predominant learning mode especially in our incoming freshmen students who are often exposed to a more teacher- centered paradigm.
This presentation will discuss the role of e-maps (digital concept/mind maps) that can serve both as scaffolding agents and as assessment tools. We will discuss our experience with these cognitive visualization techniques in a freshman “Scientific Thinking” course. With proper scaffolding, they allow learners to conceptualize, draw connections and integrate prior knowledge with new knowledge. As assessment tools, concept/mind maps make “thinking visible”, and help teachers evaluate analytic and synthesis skills while helping students develop meta-cognitive skills.