Assessing learning of sustainable development using concept maps

Project Leader: David Shallcross
Staff: David Shallcross, Kaya Prpic
Primary Contact: David Shallcross (
Keywords: engineering education
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Domains: Optimisation of resources and infrastructure

This project aims to identify whether concept maps may be used as an effective way of measuring cohort learning of particular topics in engineering safety.  The use of concept maps offers a means of assessing student awareness and knowledge of key concepts of a particular domain.  Concept mapping was developed by Novak and co-workers in the 1970’s and 1980’s as a means of evaluating the knowledge of students around particular domains.    

In a typical map the domain or central concept, is written first and then other concepts are written around it.  These concepts are normally one or two words and are enclosed within a rectangle or circle.  The concepts are linked to the domain and one another via connecting lines and short linking or connecting words or phrases.  The link existing between two concepts made by the connecting words forms a proposition.  Taken as a whole the map with its many concepts, connecting lines and propositions allow the map’s author to organize their knowledge and demonstrate their understand of the topic or domain.    

This research projects aims to determine whether the technique developed by Legrand may be applied to domains centred around sustainable development to identify student learning and appreciation of the importance of the topic.  Undergraduate students from several disciplines and at different year levels will be asked to complete concepts maps around the domain of “Sustainable Development” and the maps will be then analysed using a range of different techniques.