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Visualizing Urban Forestry: Using Concept Maps to Assess Student Performance in a Learning-Centered Classroom

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Assessment of student performance in learning-centered classrooms should be closely aligned with that pedagogical approach and should promote student learning. Although most college professors desire students to learn course content deeply and be able to use their learning afterward, students often learn only “for the test.” To encourage students to take responsibility for constructing their own knowledge and to increase the likelihood that they will use it in their future roles as professionals, we developed a protocol for a semester final exam in which students generate concept maps describing their learning during an urban forestry course. To successfully complete this assignment, students must illustrate hierarchies and connections among course topics and information into creative schema. Student narratives describing their maps provide further evidence of learning and thinking about course content. This method of assessment emphasizes student responsibility for learning and has proven to be effective for both instructor and students.

Keywords: student-centered; summative assessment; visual representations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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