Concept Maps as Innovative Learning and Assessment Tools in Primary Schools

  • Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata’i
  • Greg McPhan

The introduction of concept maps to primary teachers as tools to guide and scaffold their planning of learning activities in mathematics and science, or, alternatively as an assessment tool for student learning, was treated with some trepidation and reservations. That the tools have the potential to scaffold primary students’ learning and understanding of mathematics and science concepts was an idea that needed empirical testing in primary classrooms. Over a period of five school terms, through professional development, on-going professional support and collaborations between teachers and university researchers, an incremental introduction of semi-structured concept maps was initiated in two primary classrooms. This classroom trial occurred over a period of time until a more receptive and conducive learning environment was established with primary students using concept maps to review their understanding of Position in the K-Year 1 classroom and Fish’s Adaptive Features and Fractions in the Year 5/6 classroom. This chapter documents the professional journey of two primary teachers and their students as they struggled, persevered and succeeded in incorporating concept maps as learning and assessment tools, as part of their normal classroom practices during the year. The ultimate highlight of the innovative strategy was the initiative by the two primary teachers and their students to come together for peer tutoring and peer collaborations as the older students mentored and assisted the younger ones in using the software Inspiration TM to construct concept maps.


Mapping Task Primary Teacher Innovative Strategy Final Project Primary Student 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This project was funded by a grant from the Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) Project, which is part of the Australian Government’s Boosting Innovation, Science, Technology and Mathematics Teaching (BISTMT) Programme.


  1. Afamasaga-Fuata’i, K. (1998). Learning to solve mathematics problems through concept mapping & vee mapping. Samoa: National University of Samoa.Google Scholar
  2. Afamasaga-Fuata’i, K. (2004). Concept maps and vee diagrams as tools for learning new mathematics topics. In A. J. Canãs, J. D. Novak, & F. M. Gonázales (Eds.), Concept maps: Theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the first international conference on concept mapping, (Vol. 1, pp. 13–20). Navarra, Spain: Dirección de Publicaciones de la Universidad Pública de Navarra.Google Scholar
  3. Afamasaga-Fuata’i, K. (2005). Students’ conceptual understanding and critical thinking? A case for concept maps and vee diagrams in mathematics problem solving. In M. Coupland, J. Anderson, & T. Spencer (Eds.), Making mathematics vital. Proceedings of the twentieth biennial conference of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) (Vol. 1, pp. 43–52). Sydney, Australia: University of Technology.Google Scholar
  4. Afamasaga-Fuata’i, K., & McPhan, G. (2007). Vee diagrams as a tool for teacher professional development: Learning, reflecting and planning. Proceedings of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE). National Conference. CD-ROM.Google Scholar
  5. Ausubel, D. P. (2000). The acquisition and retention of knowledge: A cognitive view. Dordrecht, Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Grimbeek, P., & Nisbet, S. (2006). Surveying primary teachers about compulsory numeracy testing: Combining factor analysis with Rasch analysis. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 18(2), 27–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Guskey, T. (1985). Staff development and teacher change. Educational Leadership, 42, 57–60.Google Scholar
  8. Loughran, J., & Gunstone, R. (1997). Professional development in residence: Developing reflection on science teaching and learning. Journal of Education for Teaching, 23(2), 159–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. New South Wales Board of Studies (NSWBOS). (2002). K-6 Mathematics syllabus. Sydney, Australia: NSWBOS.Google Scholar
  10. Novak, J. D. (2002). Meaningful learning: The essential factor for conceptual change in limited or appropriate propositional hierarchies (LIPHs) leading to empowerment of learners. Science Education, 86(4), 548–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Novak, J. D., & Cañas, A. J. (2006). The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct them (Technical Report IHMC Cmap Tools 2006-01). Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, 2006, available at TheoryUnderlyingConceptMaps.pdf
  12. Novak, J. D., & Gowin, D. B. (1984). Learning how to learn. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Ruiz-Primo, M. (2004, September 14–17). Examining concept maps as an assessment tool. In A. J. Canãs, J. D. Novak, & Gonázales (Eds)., Concept maps: Theory, methodology, technology. Proceedings of the first international conference on concept mapping (pp. 555–562). Dirección de Publicaciones de la Universidad Pública de Navarra, Spain.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education, University of New EnglandAustralia

Personalised recommendations